Veronica Latsko’s second-half goal was all OL Reign needed to defeat the San Diego Wave 1-0 and earn a spot in the National Women’s Soccer League championship game.
The Reign will face Gotham FC for the league title on Saturday at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium. Gotham took down the Thorns 1-0 at Portland’s Providence Park in the other semifinal match.
The wins for Gotham and the Reign ensure Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger will end their careers in a championship match. Both longtime NWSL and U.S. women’s national team players will retire after the final.
Neither team has won an NWSL final, which means the league will have a new champion in its 11th season.
In the 47th minute, Latsko sent a long cross into the box from the right side. It looped over the head of Kailen Sheridan and slipped into the far-post corner. Latsko also scored the lone goal in the Reign’s quarterfinal win.
The Reign held the Wave, the NWSL Shield winner, to just two shots in the first half and defended as a team after Latsko’s goal on San Diego’s home field.
“I thought we defended really well. This group has worked so hard this year, and to finally get back to where we believe we belong is just an unbelievable feeling,” coach Laura Harvey said after the final whistle.
In the other semifinal, Katie Stengel scored the lone goal in the 107th minute to put Gotham through to its first NWSL final.
The teams played a physical, defensive battle in periodic downpours before Stengel’s goal. They combined for just six shots on goal while being whistled for 38 fouls.
After a scoreless 90 minutes, the match went to 30 minutes of extra time. With 13 minutes to go, substitute Stengel curled a shot into the upper left corner from the top of the box, beating an outstretched Shelby Ann Hogan in goal for Portland.
“I think I’m still dreaming,” Stengel said after the match. “I’m shocked it actually went in and we get to go to San Diego.”
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