EXCLUSIVE: Megan Rapinoe; ‘We’re a lot more mentally tough this year,Harvey react to long-awaited playoff victory

With some late magic, OL Reign was able to bring home a quarterfinal win in what will be Megan Rapinoe’s final game in Seattle. Angel City goalkeeper Angelina Anderson caused all sorts of problems for the Reign attack all night, making four big saves and keeping them off the scoreboard until late.

Anderson was finally beat in the 85th minute when Phoebe McClernon sent a cross into the busy Angel City box and was able to find the head of Veronica Latsko for the game-winning goal.

Despite the win, the Reign didn’t get off to a good start in their home playoff match. “In the first half Angel City was a better team, I think we needed to sort out some of our defensive stuff,” said Reign head coach Laura Harvey. “I thought the second half we dominated the game. That tends to be how we play, if we can get our defensive shape right and get our triggers right, we can cause huge problems.”

Coming into the match, the Reign was 2-6 in playoff matches, without a win since 2015. Now Claudia Dickey is only the second Reign goalkeeper to win a playoff goal–joining Hope Solo (who won that semifinal back in 2015).

Throughout the season OL Reign have scored 9 goals in the last 15 minutes of the second half, the most of any NWSL team this year. This late goal sends them to the Reign’s fifth-straight semifinal though they haven’t won one since 2015. Megan Rapinoe felt they were able to finally break that losing streak because “we’re a lot more mentally tough this year… we have a little more grit about us.”

Harvey talked post-game about her excitement getting the playoff win, “if we stay engaged, we will get opportunities and I think that tonight was proof of that. So yeah, just really happy for the players. They’ve absolutely worked so hard this year for this.”

In some extra good news for the Reign, Rose Lavelle made her first match appearance since September 3rd when she came into the match in the 64th minute and added another level to the Reign attack in the final third of the match. “I think Rose was not really ready last week and obviously getting her out there tonight was important for us. I felt that she made the difference,” Harvey said of Lavelle’s impact.



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