Reign FC had a banner day on their final home match of the season against rivals Portland Thorns FC on Sunday, beating the Thorns to clinch a spot in the NWSL Playoffs. Jodie Taylor scored her third game-winning goal of the season in the first half and rookie forward Bethany Balcer added an insurance goal late in the match to help the Reign sweep all three matches against Portland this season.
Taylor opened the scoring in the 27th minute, when a cross from Theresa Nielsen picked out the forward inside the penalty area. Taylor turned and fired a strike off the bounce, beating Portland keeper Adrianna Franch to the left side net to score her fourth goal of the season.
Balcer subbed on for Darian Jenkins in the 74th minute, replacing the forward on the right side of Reign FC’s formation. The forward scored seven minutes later, when she received an incisive pass from Nielsen and cut to her left before finishing underneath Franch at the right post to score her team-best sixth goal of the season.
Bev Yanez earned Reign FC’s Player of the Match award. The midfielder took 42 touches and two shots offensively and made one key pass. Defensively, Yanez jammed up the middle of the field, winning four of her five tackles and making six recoveries, two blocks and one clearance.
Keeper Casey Murphy kept her sixth clean sheet of the year for Reign FC in her 18th start. The keeper made two saves as her back line chipped in by blocking six shots to hold Portland scoreless for the third time this season.
Reign FC outshot Portland 15-11, including a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal. The club outdueled the Thorns 67-57 and outtackled them 18-11 in a contest that saw 20 fouls called.
Reign FC finishes out the regular season with a road match against the Orlando Pride on Saturday, October 12 at 4:30 p.m. PT. A win in that match and a Portland loss against the Washington Spirit the same day could see Reign FC finish as well as third in the final NWSL standings.