Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Rapinoe-less Reign Struggle Out of the Gates in ‘24

Natalie Schorr

The 2024 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season has been off to a rough start for the Seattle Reign. After making it all the way to last year’s finals, spending a few weeks at the bottom of the table is a far fall from grace. 

The team saw quite a few changes between the 2023 and 2024 seasons. One major development was the retirement of star Megan Rapinoe, who had played for the team her entire NWSL career. They also lost two of their United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) players in Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett to NY/NJ Gotham. While the team still has players who have earned USWNT caps, none of them have been named to recent rosters and some represent other federations. Another large change was the return to the original Seattle Reign branding

Despite the departure of multiple star players, the Reign were able to start the season strong with a win against the Washington Spirit. However, the team would go on to lose five games in a row, one of the longest losing streaks in club history. The Reign had a lot to prove going into their latest game against San Diego Wave if they wanted to start climbing back up the table from the bottom spot. 

The team was determined not to lose a sixth. Reign goalkeeper Laurel Ivory felt a different energy going into the San Diego match.

“I knew. You could just feel it. We were going to pull something out today,” Ivory said in a postgame press conference.

The game started out with a bang after Reign forward Tziarra King was ejected from the game in the ninth minute with a red card. Shortly after, the Wave’s Kyra Carusa was able to capitalize on the confusion and score a goal. 

The early red threw a wrench in the plan for Seattle. Having to compete down a player for almost the whole game made the fight to the top all that much harder. 

“Obviously when you have someone sent off as early as we did, the full game plan goes out the window a little bit,” Reign head coach Laura Harvey said. “When something happens so early in the game, you can either crumble or you can stand up and fight.”

The Reign were not going to crumble. The players showed they could stand up and fight, and were able to keep the Wave to that single goal. Then, in the 34th minute, Bethany Balcer was able to win a tackle against opposing keeper Kailen Sheridan to equalize the score.

After half the fight continued. With 10 cards being given out in total, both yellow and red, fight was an appropriate word to describe the match. The Reign were able to keep the Wave away from their goal, and if they made it that far, Ivory was there to make save after save. 

“I think defensively we did an unbelievable job,” Harvey said. “We were still aggressive, we still defended on the front foot. We made it difficult for them.”

Through all of that, the game was still all tied up. Then, in the 89th minute, a free kick from Ji So-Yun out of the Wave’s box was converted into a goal by a header from Veronica Latsko.

It was not quite time to celebrate yet. Because of the amount of yellows and free kicks, nine minutes of stoppage time were added on to the clock. The Reign kept up their defense and held their lead. In the dying minutes of the game, the Wave were granted one last chance in a corner kick. Ivory was able to make the save, but when the ball was played out everything stopped as the referee went over to check the Video Assistant Referee. It was unclear for what at first, but the crowd was soon able to see that they were checking for a potential red card to the Wave.

The whole stadium seemed to wait with baited breath as the ref checked the replay. Then, as she blew her whistle and came back onto the field, Wave midfielder Kristen McNabb was shown a red card. After that, the game was finally over, and the Reign were able to celebrate their second win of the season.

“All I kept saying after the game was ‘what just happened?’” Ivory said. 

The home crowd was up on their feet cheering after their team broke their losing streak. Throughout the almost 120 minutes of play, the Reign were able to show that they should not be written off just yet. 

“I think it just shows that this team has grit, and that’s the backbone of a championship team. You don’t win anything without grit, and we showed that for 90 minutes tonight,” Latsko said. 

The Reign still have a long way to go to get to the top. After the weekend of NWSL play, they are only in 11th out of 14 teams. If they are able to keep performing at the level they showed against the Wave however, they may just be able to get back to where they were last year.

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Natalie Schorr, Social Media Manager

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