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Silas Walker, KSL, File

Utah Royals FC claim first-ever win over Tacoma's Reign FC, 3-1

By Sean Walker, | Posted - Aug. 11, 2019 at 4:59 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Entering Sunday afternoon’s match against Reign FC, Utah Royals FC had never defeated the Reign — neither in Seattle nor Sandy nor the club’s new home in Tacoma, Washington.

The squad was 0-3-1 all-time against the Reign. Worse yet, they had yet to score a single goal against coach Laura Harvey’s former squad.

Much like the dubious streak the Royals snapped Wednesday night in a win over Sky Blue FC, they put one streak to end early.

The other would have to wait 88 more minutes.

Katie Stengel scored just over two minutes into the match, and Lo'eau LaBonta and Amy Rodriguez added two more in the second half as Utah claimed its first-ever win over the Reign 3-1 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington.

Tacoma's Shea Groom also scored a goal, equalizing for Reign FC (7-4-5, 26 points) just moments before halftime.

Stengel opened the scoring for the Royals (7-6-3, 24 points) in the third minute, and though she didn’t earn the assist, the goal was as much set up by Amy Rodriguez.

The former U.S. international dribbled through to the end line, cut inside, slipped a ball between two defenders and marked a shot on goal that Reign goalkeeper Casey Murphy parried aside. But the ball dropped in front of Stengel, who rebounded the effort from close range for her first goal of the season and a 1-0 advantage.

Stengel's goal was her first in a Royals kit since the final game of the 2018 season, a 2-1 win over Chicago. She’s bounced in and out of the starting lineup during the season, but made the most of her most recent start with the goal that gave Utah a lead through the 40th minute.

That’s when Groom, who recently played for Reign head coach Vlatko Andonovski with the now-defunct FC Kansas City, equalized. Allie Long kept alive a set piece driven into the box, and Groom finished it off with a one-touch strike inside the far post en route to the 1-1 halftime draw.

Lo’eau LaBonta gave the lead back to Utah in the 60th minute, dribbling through the traffic and the heart of the Reign’s defense before slotting home the home-run ball for a 2-1 lead.

Moments later, Rodriguez combined with Stengel for another goal. This time, Stengel lofted a shot that was saved by Murphy before Rodriguez tipped home the rebound to give the Royals a 3-1 lead — their largest lead in the all-time series.

The Utah side nearly added another, as Rodriguez's combination play with Christen Press found the back of the net. But Press' header was called offside.

Reign FC, which played without U.S. star Megan Rapinoe, was out-shot 15-13 by Utah, while the Royals converted three of their six shots on goal into another tally on the scoreboard.

The win also avenges Utah's 2-0 loss to the Tacoma side June 28 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Next up

Utah Royals FC continues their three-match road trip Saturday, Aug. 16 against the Orlando Pride. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MDT on KMYU, and Yahoo Sports.

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