Reign FC hit the road on Friday for their first match of the 2019 preseason against UCLA. The Reign will face the Bruins for the third consecutive year at the Silver Lakes Soccer Complex in Norco, Calif. at 12:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, March 16. Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski will get his first look at how the club is shaping up two weeks into the NWSL preseason.
Tickets for the match start at just $10 and can be purchased at online at:
The club’s traveling roster reflects the late arrivals to camp of several of its highest-profile players due to international duty, injuries, or illness. Megan Rapinoe, Rumi Utsugi, Steph Catley and Kristen McNabb did not make the trip to Los Angeles.
Others, like Lydia Williams, Theresa Nielsen, Celia Jimenez Delgado, and Elise Kellond-Knight arrived earlier in the week and have only been in a handful of training sessions.
“We just want to see where we’re at,” Reign FC Vlatko Andonovski said. “I think UCLA has a great program, a great team. It will be a good challenge for us, especially with us not having everybody there, I think it’s going to be a good challenge for some of the new players to see how they are integrating so far. For us, to start working a little bit more on the tactical details and start establishing the style of play that we want to have in the upcoming season.”
UCLA finished with a 19-2-3 record in 2018, falling short on penalty kicks to UNC in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. Head coach Amanda Cromwell, who led the Bruins to a 2013 national title in her first season at the helm of the program, has continued the school’s historic dominance.
Defender Hailie Mace is the most recent Bruin to go pro, having been selected with the number two pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft by Sky Blue FC after a nine-goal, six-assist campaign in 2018.
UCLA still boasts leading scorer and First-Team All-American Ashley Sanchez, however. The sophomore rewrote the program’s record book last year, tying the mark for assists (15) and setting new records for single-game assists (four), consecutive matches with a goal or assist (13), assists in an NCAA tournament (seven) and career NCAA tournament assists (11). Sanchez has also represented the U.S. at two separate U20 Women’s World Cups.
Not your average homecoming
The friendly against UCLA marks an opportunity for several alumnae to take the pitch against their former team. Lauren Barnes (2007-10), Megan Oyster (2011-14) and Darian Jenkins (2013-2016) all wore the blue and gold in their collegiate careers.
While Andonovski said the club is focused on taking care of business, he also admitted that the return will be a fun one for pros and current players alike.
“It’s extra fun for them,” Andonovski said. “They’re all looking forward to it. They’re excited about it and I think they’re going to enjoy the experience.”