OL Reign win the NWSL Shield
Nikita Taparia A record crowd of 10,746 witnessed OL Reign win the shield and finish first in the standings. SEATTLE — OL Reign’s regular-season finale was still a match of consequence. While their ticket to the NWSL Playoffs was punched last weekend, their final 2022 regular season match at Lumen Field was still crucial to send them to the playoffs in style and with momentum. And they did just that with a decisive win in front of a new standalone attendance record: 10,746. Even before kickoff, OL Reign’s playoff seed was already set — other matches around the league had gone official and everything went in OL Reign’s favor to secure a top-two finish and first round bye in the NWSL Playoffs. All that was left to do was the matter of securing the NWSL Shield and finishing first in the table, above rival Portland Thorns, who had slipped earlier in the day with a 3-3 draw to lowly Gotham FC. And OL Reign made sure they would be claiming their third NWSL Shield after a bombastic first half in which they found the back of the net three times. Megan Rapinoe, Jordyn Huitema, and Bethany Balcer claimed the goals for OL Reign. Defensively, it was another solid evening for OL Reign as they made it three straight matches with a clean sheet. Additionally, in securing the NWSL Shield, every OL Reign player will receive a cash bonus of $10K thanks to league sponsor CarMax. WHAT WORKED: 10,746 A new standalone attendance record was set on Saturday night. The team was forced beyond their normal seating configuration of 10K, and the raucous crowd provided exactly the support the club needed to propel them into the playoffs. The win was big not just on the field, but also off the field, as the club now has three weeks to market the hell out of the NWSL Playoff Semifinal and draw an even bigger number. WHAT WORKED: YO DAWG, HEARD YOU LIKE GOALS And here were OL Reign’s goals. Grab your favorite beverage, dessert, whatever is your comfort food/drink, and enjoy the fireworks. 8th minute, Megan Rapinoe: Who else but... RAPINOE scores to celebrate her 100th appearance with the @OLReign! ⚽@mPinoe | RGNvORL pic.twitter.com/tixxWdyKQ4— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 2, 2022 24th minute, Jordyn Huitema: This whole play is @JordynHuitema scores the second goal of the night to make it 2-0! #BoldTogether | #RGNvORL pic.twitter.com/fb310Sydrm— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 2, 2022 31st minute, Bethany Balcer: Look at this thing. I can't imagine a more beautiful thing. @OLReign | @bethanybalcer pic.twitter.com/7wkn0vgSVx— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 2, 2022 WHAT DIDN’T WORK: NOTHING? On a night where they set a new standalone attendance record, secured the NWSL Shield, finished in first place in the standings/above Portland, notched a three-goal win and clean sheet... everything went right tonight for OL Reign. It was a game for the ages to close out the 2022 NWSL regular season. And with that, the 2022 NWSL regular season is done for OL Reign, and finished with style. OL Reign will host one of the NWSL Playoff Semifinals on Sunday, October 23 against the winner of the Houston vs. Kansas City first-round match. Kickoff time that day is still to be determined. For the next three weeks, it’s all about waiting and resting through the FIFA international window for the club. And for you, the soccer-loving reader, that’s three weeks to make plans to be at Lumen Field and support OL Reign’s quest to claim their first NWSL Championship.