“Sh*t’s hard,” OL Reign star Megan Rapinoe jokingly interjected over her teammate Lauren Barnes, explaining why the Reign haven’t ever won a National Women’s Soccer League championship.
Saturday’s championship game marks the Reign’s first appearance in the last game of the season since 2015. In their Shield-winning 2014 and 2015 seasons, they lost to FC Kansas City in the championship game. This time around, there are a lot of things that are different and many that are similar.
Laura Harvey was the coach of both those championship squads, and Rapinoe, Barnes and Jess Fishlock played in them as well. All four have grown in their understanding of what it takes to win a championship, and they hope that over a decade of lessons learned will help them finally reach the mountaintop and send Rapinoe into retirement on a high note.
Those lessons have already paid off this year: The Reign won their first playoff game since 2015 in the quarterfinals over Angel City and then topped San Diego in the semifinals. Contrast that with the 2021 and 2022 seasons, when the Reign finished second and first, respectively, in the regular season and then lost in the semifinals at home.
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