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Utah Royals suffer their first loss in the Challenge Cup

A last minute goal from the Reign gives Utah their first defeat

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Utah Royals suffered their first loss of the Challenge Cup tournament due to a goal from Bethany Balcer in the 91st minute.

Utah Royals were the more aggressive team in the first half, despite only having 45% of the possession. Each team had 5 shots, but Utah was the only side to put a ball on frame. The first half ended 0-0.

The second half began with a triple substitution for the Royals, with Nolf, Maemone, and Corsie all leaving the game, and Bowen, Leach, and Diallo entering the match. It marked the debut for both Aminata Diallo, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, and Taylor Leach. Leach slotted into the backline, and Diallo joined the midfield. Diallo impressed on her debut, especially since she has only joined the team in Utah within the last two weeks. Mallory Weber left the game in the 76th minute and was replaced by Raisa Strom-Okimoto. Brittany Ratcliffe subbed out for Diana Matheson in the79th minute.

The game felt fairly evenly match, though the intensity of OL Reign was brought up a level. In the 91st minute, the Reign’s substitutes paid off, as Yuka Momiki crossed a ball in for Bethany Balcer. Balcer finds space between two Utah defenders, heads the ball in. Veteran goal keeper Nicole Barnhart gets a hand to it, but it’s not enough to keep the ball from finding the back of the net.

The Royals mounted another attack or two, but with 5 minutes of stoppage time added, it wasn’t enough to find an equalizer. Final score OL Reign 1, Utah Royals FC 0.