SALT LAKE CITY — What a week it has been for the Utah Royals FC offense.
Downtrodden last Saturday after a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars stretched its winless streak to six games, URFC scored three goals for the first time this season Wednesday in a win over New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC. Then on Sunday afternoon, the club scored another three en route to a 3-1 road win over Washington-based Reign FC in Tacoma.
Katie Stengel scored her first goal of the season in the third minute, Lo'eau LaBonta found the net in the 59th minute after Reign FC's Shea Groom had tied things up in the 41st minute and Amy Rodriguez put the game out of reach with a goal in the 67th minute.
Most importantly, Sunday's win moves URFC to within just two points of the fourth and final National Women's Soccer League playoff spot with eight games to go in the regular season, a spot that is currently owned by Reign FC.
URFC's six goals in its last two games equals the number of goals it scored from May 25-Aug. 3. It only scored three goals in a game once all of last season.
Despite Stengel's early goal, which came off a rebound after Rodriguez made an incredible move to get free for a shot, Reign FC controlled most of the first half and finally got the equalizer when Groom took advantage of some confusion in the area and rifled a shot past URFC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
In the 59th minute, LaBonta got the ball at midfield and started marching forward without much resistance. Finally Reign FC picked her up near the box, but defenders weren't physical enough to dispossess her and LaBonta chipped the ball over goalkeeper Casey Murphy to put URFC back on top.Comment on this story
LaBonta was directly involved in three of URFC's six goals over the last two games.
From there, URFC largely controlled the rest of the contest, with Rodriguez and Stengel reversing roles in the 67th minute from the early goal. Stengel, who started again in place of Gunny Jonsdottir, tried a shot from distance, which Murphy mishandled. Rodriguez was right there to gather the rebound, and it was an easy shot for the goal.
URFC will play its second of three straight games on the road Saturday against the Orlando Pride, the second-worst team in the nine-team NWSL.