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Royals get bounced early, but lay groundwork for 2021

Photo Copyright Lucas Muller

It is a tough way to leave a tournament, holding your opponent off the scoreboard and then receiving your exit papers courtesy of a penalty-kick shootout. But that’s exactly what happened to Utah Royals FC on Friday night. After 90 minutes of sometimes boring, sometimes brutal and always scoreless soccer against the Houston Dash, they fell victim to the penalty savant, Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell. Utah’s 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup is over.

The Royals were in a unique position at this tournament with it being played in their backyard. A win over the Dash and would have graduated them to Rio Tinto Stadium which will host the semifinals and championship match next week. Instead, their head coach, Craig Harrington, will likely have to wait until 2021 to be able to coach a match in the building his team calls home.

Harrington may be out of the Challenge Cup, but over five games he made a mark and may actually have the Royals lined up for some sharp improvement in 2021.

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