Racing Seeks Historic Result in Challenge Cup Semis
Photo By Fahad Alotaibi | Bluegrass Soccer Cast
Racing Louisville will make club history on Wednesday night when they face OL Reign in the Challenge Cup semifinals at Lumen Field in Seattle. Kickoff is set for 10 PM ET on CBS Sports Network. It marks the first time Racing has reached the knockout stage of any competition in their young existence. After a vital group stage showing, they booked a spot in the final four.
“Reaching the semifinals is a credit to the hard work this team has put in,” said coach Kim Björkegren. “Now we are excited for the chance to play for a trophy.”
Louisville sits just one win away from the Challenge Cup final, which will take place this Saturday. Their opponents, OL Reign, cruised through the group stage undefeated.
These sides have played to five straight draws in regular season meetings, so something will have to give in the semifinals. There will be no extra time if tied – the match will go straight to penalties; just like The Leagues Cup.
Racing enters the contest with confidence after beating NWSL-leading Portland 2-1 at home last weekend. Goals from Abby Erceg and Thembi Kgatlana fueled the upset victory.
“The performance we put in against Portland shows this team can compete with anyone when we play to our potential,” Erceg said.
The offense certainly hasn’t been a problem for Louisville in the tournament. Racing netted 10 goals in the group stage, led by Savannah DeMelo and Parker Goins with three each. But unlocking an OL Reign defense that didn’t concede a single goal in group play will prove challenging. Racing midfielder Paige Monaghan will look to continue her standout tournament.
On the other end, goalkeeper Katie Lund has been a rock between the pipes. She recorded three clean sheets during the group stage to tie for the lead. However, she did give up a bad goal at home over the weekend.
With a trophy hanging in the balance, Louisville will need to summon that extra desire and sharpness Wednesday night. This rising team has proven up for big moments all season long. If Racing can turn those draws with Reign into a victory, the first final appearance awaits. Expect attacking soccer between two confident sides. But in a one-off knockout match, defense and midfield battles often decide outcomes. Racing has the experience and grit to go toe-to-toe with a perennial power. A landmark result is within reach at Lumen Field. Louisville is trending upward and ready for the task.
Make sure to stick to Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of Racing Louisville and everything soccer in our beautiful Commonwealth.