After a break in NWSL action, and a postponement due to a minor Covid outbreak within the team, Angel City FC were back at home, and back in action this evening. They hosted who has become one of the tougher teams for ACFC to overcome, OL Reign. The team were coming off a massive win at home a few weeks ago, beating SD Wave in the first-ever regular season meeting between the two expansion clubs, 2-1. Looking to make the most of the extended rest period, a win against the Reign would certainly set the stage for what should be an exciting finish to the season.
It was a special night as the team retired jersey number 22 before the match began. The number has been embedded in ACFC lore, and recently the team decided to remove the number from possible selection in honor of the initial success of the launch of the club’s Player 22 Future Program. You can read more it about it here!
Once the match did kickoff, it was all about the action on the pitch, of which there was plenty. Angel City wasted no time in drawing first blood against a team they know will work tirelessly to find goals off their own. A great breakaway sent Emslie running into the box, the ball at her feet, and while the initial shot was saved, Cari Roccaro was there to tap the rebound into the back of the net to give ACFC the early lead.
Knowing one goal wouldn't be enough, Sydney Leroux put that “veteran” label to excellent use in the 27th minute. After a decent ball forward from defender Madison Hammond, Leroux timed contact just right and drew the foul in the box for the penalty. It even ended in a yellow card for the Reign defender. Savannah McCaskill stepped up to the spot and calmly sent the keeper one way, while shooting the ball the other to double the lead for ACFC.
As if not to let the offense have all the fun, Angel City goalkeeper DiDi Haračić added to her highlight reel shortly after Angel City’s second goal. OL Reign were on the hunt to cut the lead in half and nearly did if it wasn't for DiDi slamming the door, finishing it off with a leaping effort to keep them scoreless. Then, just as the half ended, OL Reign got awarded a penalty of their own. Surely, this meant they would cut the lead in half right before break sending everyone into a tizzy, right? WRONG! DiDi said no goals for you, and saved the shot from the spot which was met with a loud roar from the crowd.
The second was about seeing out the victory, and trying to put past another goal or two in the process, but the three points were what mattered most. The OL Reign aren't a team to give up easily, and of course, were able to score in the second half. Jess Fishlock got on the end of a great pass from Tziarra King, and put on a fantastic shot that curled into the good side of the post for the goal to cut the lead in half with plenty of time left. It was time for ACFC to respond if they wanted all the points.
Reign did what they do best and made it harder on us all with an equalizer in the 64th minute of the mach. Sofia Huerta unloaded an absolute rocket to send the goal past DiDi, giving her side the equalizer in a highly entertaining match. However, there was still plenty of time for ACFC to find a winner at home.
DiDi did add one more incredible save to her already outstanding night as OL Reign broke through and had a very clear shot to take the lead late, but DiDi was there to shut it down. Unfortunately, Reign never give up and in the 89th minute, a fresh Tobin Heath off the bench drove the final dagger through the hearts of ACFC fans with the goal to give her side the lead late. The team are back in action, with revenge on their minds, next Sunday. They hit the road and travel to Orlando to face off against a Pride side that got the best of ACFC when they came to LA. Luckily for ACFC, the game-winning goalscorer plays for them now.
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