Forward Jodie Taylor assisted on the first goal of the night, then scored a dramatic game-winner in the 86th minute to help Reign FC (9-6-7, 34 points) to a 2-1 win over Utah Royals FC (9-9-4, 31 points).
“It was a battle, wasn’t it?” Taylor said. “We knew going into it that it was going to be a scrappy game. I thought it was quite end-to-end and tight. I’m just happy that we won.”
The win moves Reign FC into the fourth and final playoff spot in the NWSL standings. The club now also holds the primary tiebreaker against Utah should the two clubs finish level on points, having gone 2-1-0 against the Royals this season.
Forward Bethany Balcer opened the scoring in the 40th minute. Taylor chipped a short through ball over Utah’s back line and Balcer found it wide of goal, before closing down and firing it past Nicole Barnhart to the far side net to record her fifth goal of the season.
Utah equalized in the 67th minute. After a series of blocked shots, a loose ball rolled to the Royals’ Vero Boquete, who converted from inside the six-yard box past keeper Casey Murphy.
Taylor’s late goal came after forward Darian Jenkins flicked a header over Utah’s back line. Taylor settled underneath the ball and hit a low shot before it could touch the ground, beating Barnhart to the left post to score her third goal of the season.
“The thing with Jodie is that she knows she hasn’t scored as many goals as she could probably score,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “But she’s a big player. She comes in in big games and scores big goals. When you need her the most, she scores a goal in the 86th minutes to get us a step closer to the playoffs.”
Taylor’s goal and assist earned her Reign FC’s Player of the Match award. The forward now leads the team with three assists in 14 appearances.
Reign FC was outshot 14-10 by Utah, including an 8-5 advantage for the Royals in shots on goal. The hosts won the tackle battle 17-7, however, winning the ball in critical areas despite conceding 59 percent of the possession.
Reign FC’s closes out its home schedule against rivals Portland Thorns FC on Sunday, September 29 at 11:00 a.m. PT. A limited number of tickets are available online, or by calling the Reign FC ticket office at (855) REIGN-FC.