After a somewhat lackluster start to the season, Utah Royals FC faced the challenge of traveling to take on the undefeated league-leading North Carolina Courage. Here are some of the things we can take away from a tough 2-2 draw on the road.
The scoring touch
We finally saw some offense as URFC tripled their goal total for the season in this one. After falling behind on another wonder strike from distance, the Royals fought off multiple corner kicks to keep it 1-0 through the half.
Coming out much stronger in the second half, the Royals put pressure on the Courage that finally paid off when a service towards the box led to a failed clearance by Abby Dahlkemper that Katie Stengel was able to head in for the equalizing goal. A misplaced pass by Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland rolled straight to Brittany Ratcliffe, who dribbled towards the edge of the area and then fired inside the near post to give the visitors the lead. It was nice to see persistence, and maybe a little luck, to get the team on the scoresheet again.
Consistency on the road
Despite the unfortunate late goal by NC to level the score, the Royals still have yet to leave as visitors without taking points home. Though all three were theirs for the taking, road points are a premium item in the women’s league as much as they are in the men’s, perhaps more so given that home field isn’t always as much of an advantage as it should be.
Now the team can take some comfort in knowing they got three good results out of the tough start to their season, and now have four in a row in the RioT to put on a show for their home crowd and get some wins on their record.
Signs of improvement / Roster rotation
Laura Harvey made a few changes to the team, both out of necessity and to try a few new things. While the defense dealt with injury, the forward line saw Stengel and Ratcliffe play wide as opposed to being the central striker, and Lo’eau Labonta getting the start at the top of the attack. The combination looked good in the second half as the team focused more on holding possession and making smarter passes, and showed what this team can be capable of.
The substitution of Amy Rodriguez into the second consecutive match let Labonta drop back into the midfield to support the world-class forward, and she showed her skill on the ball with several shifty moves to create chances on frame. The healthier she gets, and the longer she can play, the more dangerous the team will become and should open up more chances for others to score as well.
- Royals FC is going to earn 12 draws away from home this season.
- Stengel and Ractliffe are going to go on a tear after getting the confidence to attack from this match. Hat tricks for everyone!!!