Racing Louisville FC vs. OL Reign score, takeaways: Davis lifts Louisville into NWSL Challenge Cup final


Racing Louisville FC are one step closer to their first-ever NWSL trophy. The Kentucky side defeated OL Reign 1-0 on Wednesday in the NWSL Challenge Cup semifinal. 

It’s another Challenge Cup semifinal exit for top seed OL Reign.  After a second consecutive appearance in the tournament semifinal, coach Laura Harvey made nine changes to her lineup from the clubs’ regular-season match on Sunday. Louisville manager Kim Bjorkegren made one player rotation for the semifinal, and the gamble paid off. 

Racing forward Kirsten Davis capitalized on an early turnover and scored the game-winner as Lousiville will now face North Carolina Courage for the cup title on Saturday

Here’s how to watch the big game on Saturday:

Viewing information

  • Date: Saturday, Sept. 9
  • Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: Wakemed Soccer Park — Cary, North Carolina
  • TV: CBS 

Reign bow out of another semifinal

Coach Harvey utilized the Challenge Cup to get depth players extensive minutes during a long season with a World Cup break. The competition was a showcase of the Reign’s deep bench, all the way through to a semifinal on a quick turnaround from a regular season game on Sunday. The vast changes to the lineup from one match to another weren’t a shocking change in season routine for the club this year.

A semifinal exit is all too familiar territory for Harvey and the team. This is their second consecutive appearance in the Challenge Cup semifinal, both times as a top seed, and they have been eliminated in the semifinals of the NWSL playoffs the last four postseasons. The tournament experience can still be considered good preparation as the team now regroups for a playoff push with four weeks remaining in the regular season. 

Racing shows off depth of their own

Louisville capitalized on Challenge Cup as an opportunity to earn their first-ever NWSL title, and they are now one game closer to their goal. The club hasn’t typically been named in the category of “deep squad,” but coach Bjorkegren has built a roster with plenty of impact players in his short time with the team.

“I’m really happy with the squad and we showed our depth,” he said after the game. “I mean, we need to remember that Howell, our captain, is away, for example, and normally Jordan [Bloomer] is one that comes in, Carson Pickett is a top defender in the league, and [there’s] a couple of other players as well that we missed, but we still are there. We’re still working hard together. We showed that we have the depth, and we have the quality in a game like this.”

Bjorkegren’s arrival to the club came after Racing dismissed former coach Christy Holly. The initial termination was announced “for cause” and was later detailed in U.S. Soccer’s commissioned investigation of widespread abuse in women’s pro soccer. Bjorkegren’s hire began in 2022, and over the last two seasons, the team has built up its roster through the draft and key international signings. A trip to the Challenge Cup semifinal and a regular season playoff push almost feels like the team is ahead of its rebuilding schedule.

“I think so,” Bjorkegren said. “I mean, I’ve been here for almost two seasons now, and the first season was a little bit difficult. It was more to rebuild, to be honest. This season felt almost like the first year for me. We really could start to work with the team, and I think we’re getting better and better every month. Of course, there’s always a little bit of ups and downs.

But overall, we are a much better team today than we were one year and two years ago. I think that’s the most important thing for me as a coach, to see the process all the time. I’m really happy with the girls.”

What’s next

Racing Lousiville will head to North Carolina to face the Courage on Saturday and return to regular-season play on Sept. 15 against the Houston Dash. OL Reign are currently in fourth place on the league table and will continue their playoff push when they return to regular season action on Sept. 16 against Portland Thorns FC. 


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