PISCATAWAY, N.J. — There was a lot happening Saturday night at Yurcak Field. It was one of the few things that didn’t that had Laura Harvey fuming in the aftermath. Harvey’s Reign led 3-0 at halftime and, after having that erased, 4-3 entering stoppage time. Sky Blue wound up scoring twice in stoppage time to pull out a remarkable, 5-4 victory. Harvey, while acknowledging her teams compliance in the result, was still looking for the offside flag on the play that led to Sky Blue’s fourth goal.
“Obviously fourth goal for them is so far offside that it’s embarrassing a linesman can’t see that. Embarrassing,” Harvey raged during her post match press scrum. “Just showed the ref. He’s tells me well, he can’t do anything about it now.”
The moment in question was not the pass that led to Maya Hayes’s goal. Rather it was the previous ball in that had Harvey upset. When the initial ball is sent ahead by Taylor Lytle, all Sky Blue players appear to be onside. But Hayes gets a flick on the ball to send it near the goal at which time McKenzie Meehan and Sam Kerr are very clearly behind every Reign defender. Only a rare poor touch by Kerr prevented a goal. Instead Kerr chased it down and gave it to Domi Richardson whose cross was headed in by Hayes.
“Fair play to them. Unbelievable comeback,” Harvey continued. “But when you can’t get a four-yards offside right this league we’ve got major problems. Major. We’ve got major problems because we can’t keep a 3-0 lead, but when things like that happen, I don’t even know what to say anymore. I can’t get fined anymore because I say it every week. The players deserve more.”
Harvey went on to acknowledge the defensive deficiencies in the Reign, who four weeks earlier in Seattle had a 4-0 lead on Sky Blue in the second half and needed a late Megan Rapinoe goal to pull out a 5-4 win.
“Terrible second half by us. We didn’t get good enough pressure on the ball and you know, on this field, if you don’t get enough pressure on the ball, they’re going to try to turn you all the time. With Sam Kerr—she’s the best player in the world right now, no question—you can’t give her that space. And we did.”
Before she was finished though, the conversation returned to the missed offside flag.
“Ultimately you can’t be up 3-0 at halftime and lose a game. But I’ll say it again. We (should have) come away with a draw. I think they can’t get that wrong. In a game like this, you can’t. And then you can’t say it to me nonchalant that it doesn’t matter, because it matters. It might be my job, so it matters. He’ll keep his, but I’ll lose mine.”