It only took 15 shot attempts and three games for the OL Reign to record their first goal of the NWSL Challenge Cup, but on Wednesday, they finally found the back of the net. 

In stoppage time, NWSL 2019 Rookie of the Year Bethany Balcer scored on a header to give the Reign the 1-0 victory and their first win of the tournament. Balcer was ultimately named Budweiser Woman of the Match. 

The score came in the 91st minute when Yuka Momiki, who came off the bench in the 81st minute, found Balcer who nodded in the game-winning goal. 

It feels really good. It feels like it’s been a long time coming. Our first two games, we didn’t really feel like we showed who we are, so it felt good to get the win. -- Balcer told

It was also a special moment for coach Farid Benstiti, who secured his first win since becoming the Reign’s head coach in January.

It was a game like we wanted it to be. The pressure was good and positive for us. We had a lot of pressure to do well. The pressure on the players must be positive. Even if you have to get a result, you have to be calm to be good and to listen to what we wanted, what we expected them to do. That’s the great thing. We expected that. The timing was good for everything. We were humble. We were passionate and we wanted our substitutes to come on the field fresh. It looks like a movie. They are happy because the result is positive.” -- Farid Benstiti


The preliminary round concludes on Monday, July 13, when the Reign and Portland Thorns clash at 9:30 a.m. PT. The Thorns are coming off a 1-1 draw vs. Washington Spirit and remain winless in the 2020 Challenge Cup. 

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