Morgan Andrews underwent one of soccer’s rarest experiences against Sky Blue FC on Saturday. The Reign FC midfielder was asked to step in net for the final minutes of play in a 2-1 win after an injury to keeper Michelle Betos.
“I think we noticed (something was wrong) when we had turned around and Michelle was on the ground and play had stopped,” Andrews said Monday. “Michelle Betos is one of the toughest players and people that I’ve ever met, so I knew something was wrong while she was still on the ground. She was incredibly tough. When she realized that it was a field player that would have to go into the net, she said ‘tape it up.’ She was ready to play, but it just wasn’t the right thing for her safety.”
Law Three states: “A match is played by two teams, each with a maximum of eleven players; one must be the goalkeeper.” So when Betos remained down two minutes into second half stoppage time, Andrews was tasked by head coach Vlatko Andonovski with playing in goal.
“It was a really quick decision,” Andrews said. “Vlatko had asked me and I wasn’t going to say no. I wanted to take on the responsibility and help the team out where they needed it. I just want to be a player that my team needs, whatever role that may be. At that moment, it was me going back in net, but I knew that my teammates weren’t going to allow anything dangerous to come my way. Everyone did their job, we were winning battles higher up the field. There was no dangerous moment in the last few minutes that made the decision hard.”
Andrews was not forced to make a save in her three minutes in goal, thanks to a shot blocked by centerback Megan Oyster in the eighth minute of stoppage time. The midfielder did, however, leap up and grab a cross bound for the back post, drawing a massive cheer from the 3,036 in attendance.
“I knew that I had to catch it,” Andrews said, smiling. “I told the girls that I put my face behind the ball just in case it slipped through my hands, so that when it hit me it wouldn’t go anywhere else. I made the catch and the stadium was loud and supportive. It was a great moment.”
Still, Andrews was grateful to have an uneventful final few minutes in goal as Reign FC locked up its first three-point result of 2019. The midfielder knows it is unlikely she’ll ever be called on to step between the posts, but stands ready to answer the call should the need arise.
“I wasn’t hoping for anything on net. I knew that my players were going to do their jobs. I don’t think anyone was hoping for a shot on net, but I was ready for it if it was coming. I’d do anything for this team. If it’s sacrificing my body, then I’ll do it. Anything to put the team first and get that first win.”