U.S. Under-23 Women’s Youth National Team Falls 3-0 To OL Reign To Open Thorns Preseason Tournament

Bethany Balcer Scores Twice for Reigning NWSL Shield Winners

PORTLAND, Oregon (March 12, 2023) – The U.S. Under-23 Women’s Youth National Team opened its three-game run at the Thorns Preseason Tournament with a 3-0 loss to the 2022 NWSL Shield Winners OL Reign.

The U.S. team, playing with a roster made up entirely of collegiate players and after only a few days of training together, defended with intensity and fight, but had trouble putting together attacks against a Reign back line that featured – for most of the game -- NWSL veteran Lu Barnes, two USWNT regulars in Alana Cook and Sofia Huerta, and center back Phoebe McClernon.

The match was played under a steady rain and with unlimited subs allowed. Nine of the U.S. starters and 17 of the players who saw action overall were playing in their first match for the U.S. U-23s. The Reign also sent out a starting XI that featured U.S. internationals Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett along with Wales international Jessica Fishlock in the midfield and Canadian international forward Jordyn Huitema up top, but it was forward Bethany Balcer who made the USA pay in the first half.

The Reign pressured from the opening whistle and it paid off in the 16th minute. Cook found herself on the left wing after a short free kick taken from the top of the penalty area was played to Huerta in the right side of the box. Huerta blasted a shot from a tight angle that skimmed off the crossbar and Cook tracked down the rebound before crossing into the middle. Balcer met the service, slicing in front of her defender to spin a volley with the outside of her right foot into the lower left corner from about seven yards out.

In the 32nd minute, Balcer got the second as she once again directed a volley into the lower left corner, this off a cross from the right from Huerta, and from a bit further out as she made contact just behind the penalty spot.

The final Reign score came courtesy of an own goal as U.S. defender Lauren Flynn inadvertently knocked the ball into her own net in the 57th minute.

U.S. goalkeeper Neeku Purcell made a few nice stops on the afternoon and had five total saves for the match while also punching a few crosses out of danger.

The tournament continues Wednesday, March 15 with the OL Reign facing Racing Louisville at 5 p.m. PT and the USA playing the Thorns at 7:30 p.m. PT. The friendly competition will finish on Saturday, March 18 as the USA faces Racing Louisville at 5 p.m. PT and the Thorns take on the OL Reign at 7:30 p.m. PT. None of the matches are being streamed.

-U.S. Under-23 Women’s Youth National Team Match Report-

Match: United States U-23 Women's National Team vs. OL Reign
Date: March 12, 2023
Competition: Thorns Preseason Tournament
Venue: Providence Park; Portland, Oregon
Attendance: N/A
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. PT
Weather: 47 degrees, rain

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F         

USA                             0          0          0
RGN                             2          1          3

RGN – Bethany Balcer (Alana Cook)            16th minute
RGN – Bethany Balcer (Sofia Huerta)         32
RGN – Own Goal (Lauren Flynn)                    57                      


USA U-23:12-Neeku Purcell; 7-Ellie Wheeler (6-Kate Wiesner, 46), 8-Lauren Flynn, 10-Ayo Oke (9-Quincy McMahon, 66), 19-Eva Gaetino (20-Talia Staude, 46); 5-Talia DellaPeruta (Capt.) (22-Annie Karich, 66), 11-Jillian Shimkin (21-Sunshine Fontes, 46), 17-Sarah Weber (18-Felicia Knox, 58); 3-Reilyn Turner (24-Brittany Raphino, 66), 13-Taylor Huff (16-Lexi Missimo 77), 14-Simone Jackson (2-Avery Patterson, 33)

Subs not used: 1-Ryan Campbell, 4-Lilly Reale, 15-Trinity Byars

Head Coach: Margueritte Aosaza                                                     

OL Reign: 30-Claudia Dickey; 11-Sofia Huerta (22-Ryanne Brown, 82), 4-Alana Cook, 21-Phoebe McClernon (17-Sam Hiatt, 46), 3-Lauren Barnes (Capt.) (14-Jimena López, 74); 2-Emily Sonnett (13-Marley Canales, 74), 16-Rose Lavelle 24-Veronica Latsko, 60), 10-Jess Fishlock (12-Olivia Athens, 59) ; 8-Bethany Balcer (33-Olivia Van Der Jagt, 46), 9-Jordyn Huitema (31-Natalie Viggiano, 82), 23-Tziarra King (34-Elyse Bennett, 59)

Subs not used:  5-Quinn, 6-Angelina, 7-Nikki Stanton, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 18-Laurel Ivory, 19-Luany, 20-Alyssa Malonson, 25-Shae Holmes, 91-Phallon Tullis-Joyce 

Head Coach: Laura Harvey

Stats Summary: USA / RGN                       

Shots: 3 / 12
Shots on Goal: 1 / 8
Saves: 5 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 7
Fouls: 10 / 7
Offside: 0 / 1

Misconduct Summary:

RGN – Emily Sonnet (Caution)          72nd minute

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