NWSL Challenge Cup: OL Reign and Sky Blue FC get first goals -- and first wins

OL Reign picked up its first win at the NWSL Challenge Cup when it beat the host Utah Royals, 1-0, on 2019 NWSL Rookie of the Year Bethany Balcer's goal in stoppage time.

Balcer scored on a header she flicked past Utah keeper Nicole Barnhart after a pass from Japanese newcomer Yuka Momiki.

The win was the first since the French-owned OL Reign named Farid Benstiti as its new head coach following Vlatko Andonovski's move to the U.S. women's national team as its head coach.

OL Reign had opened with a 0-0 tie with Sky Blue FC and 2-0 loss to Houston.

July 8 in Herriman, Utah

Utah 0 OL Reign 1. Goal: Balcer (Momiki) 90+1
Utah -- Barnhart; Ball, Corsie (Leach 46), Del Fava; Maemone (Bowen 46), Nolf (Diallo 46), LaBonta, Boquete, Weber (Strom-Okimoto 76); Ratcliffe (Matheson 79), Rodriguez
OL Reign -- Betos; Brooks, Cook, Cox, Celia (Quinn 68); McNabb, Weatherholt, Cruz (Balcer 69); Spencer (Smith 55), Taylor (Momiki 81), Jenkins (Lee 81).

A pair of first-half goals powered Sky Blue FC to a 2-0 win over the Houston Dash for its first win in three games. The two-goal margin was good to move Sky Blue FC from last place at kickoff to second place in the eight-team Challenge Cup.

Paige Monaghan opened the scoring when she ran on to a through ball from Ifeoma Onumonu and beat goalkeeper Jane Campbell. Japanese forward Nahomi Kawasumi added the second goal in the 34th minute when she scored from 30 yards after collecting an errant clearance from Campbell and catching the former Stanford keeper off her line.

Sky Blue FC had opened with a 0-0 tie with OL Reign and 1-0 loss to the Royals.

Wednesday's results assured the defending champion North Carolina Courage of the top seed in the knockout round. With three wins, the Courage has nine points, five more than five teams tied with four points.

Sky Blue FC is ahead of Utah, Houston, Washington and OL Reign on goal difference. Portland and Chicago are the only teams without wins.

July 8 in Herriman, Utah

Sky Blue FC 2 Houston 0. Goals: Monaghan (Onumonu) 17, Kawasumi 34.
Sky Blue FC -- Sheridan; Dorsey (Flores 70), Johnson, Lewandowski, Purce; Zerboni, Cudjoe (Richardson 70), Woldmoe; Kawasumi, Onumonu (Viens 82), Monaghan (Eddy 60).
Houston -- Campbell; Simon, Naughton, Oyster, Prisock (Kizer 77); Hanson (Latsko 83), Mewis, Groom (Schmidt 69), Privett (Prince 46), Nairn (Stengel 68); Daly.

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