This was the kind of game Utah Royals FC hoped to win, but like every competitive NWSL matchup, it was not going to be easy. Coming into their second game in four days, head coach Laura Harvey decided to make significant changes to her starting 11, including moving Christen Press to midfield and starting Erika Tymrak and Katie Stengel at forward alongside Amy Rodriguez and resting Becky Sauerbrunn and Katie Bowen.
Despite the chances in the first half, the game would remain scoreless going into halftime with Utah leading offensively with 7 shots, 2 on goal and 54% possession. Washington was held to one single shot, so any doubts as to how the Royals would do without Sauerbrunn were erased, resting confidently on the Utah backline for the rest of the game. Sauerbrunn eventually subbed into the game in the 80th minute.
Washington, who had not won a single game since June 16, continued to keep Utah from gaining the lead. But the Royals were determined with Press and Rodriguez aiming for the goal as much as possible, even taking shots from outside the 18.
It was in the 74th minute, however, that finally saw the Royals break the deadlock. Taylor Lytle, who subbed in for Tymrak in the 65th minute, received the ball in the middle third and found Stengel near the 18. Stengel took the opportunity for a shot from the top of the 18 for the goal that gave Utah Royals FC their second consecutive win. Stengel, with 5 goals in 2018, continues to be the Royals’ leading goalscorer.
With the win, Utah Royals FC remain in contention for the postseason, and they are now tied with Chicago Red Stars with 28 points. Utah continues its 2018 season this Saturday in the NWSL Game of the Week against Seattle Reign FC at 1:30 PM at Rio Tinto Stadium.