OL Reign vs. Washington Spirit: Four Takeaways
OL Reign took on the Washington Spirit on Sunday in a 0-0 draw. Despite the scoreline, the game was filled with breakaway runs and near-misses. Let’s break down some positives and negatives each team can take with them:
1. Camryn Biegalski
Biegalski has quietly been establishing herself as a go-to defensive starter for the Spirit. She put in an impressive shift this match, sprinting back in order to stop players like Veronica Latsko and Ally Watt from scoring on the breakaway. This continues a pattern of Biegalski coming up big and making gutsy tackles that started in the Challenge Cup this season. Other defenders, namely Emily Sonnett, did well on Sunday, but Biegalski’s continuously massive blocks should be the thing the Spirit cheer about after this game.
2. Ally Watt
Ally Watt was a massive addition to the Reign side in the 61st minute when she replaced Veronica Latsko. Not more than a few minutes after coming in, Watt created a prime goal-scoring chance and did it again later in the half. Only the runs of Camryn Biegalski stopped her from making the scoreline 2-0. In addition to the speed and spatial awareness she brought with her, Watt seemed to reinvigorate the entire team when she came in. She not only continued the intensity and drive of Latsko, but heightened it even more. When combined with such attacking-minded players as Jess Fishlock or Tziarra King, Watt is a true threat.
3. Rolling in the Deep
With a massive amount of injuries hampering the Spirit (including Ashley Hatch in this match with a suspected concussion), the lack of depth on their bench is becoming increasingly apparent. Typical depth players such as Biegalski, Anna Heilferty, and Taylor Aylmer being called upon to replace injured starters means that the Spirit’s bench is primarily composed of inexperienced players. Two rookie substitutes, Maddie Elwell and Audrey Harding, were signed this month. While the substitutes did not negatively affect the game outcome, the Spirit staff need to be considering their options during the international break. At the moment, they don’t have many.
4. Finishing the Hat
While Reign certainly looked more dangerous throughout the match than the Spirit, they could not finish any of their chances. Aubrey Kingsbury only had to make three saves because most of Reign’s shots were either closed down, went wide, or hit the crossbar. This seems to be a lingering problem from 2021, most prominently on display during OL Reign’s semifinal loss to the Spirit. If the Reign are to return to their winning ways, they have to score. They can set goals up wonderfully, but if they can’t finish them, they cannot succeed.