Veronica Latsko helps OL Reign to NWSL championship with pair of clutch game-winners

Veronica Latsko celebrates with Megan Rapinoe
Veronica Latsko of OL Reign celebrates her goal with Megan Rapinoe against Angel City FC at Lumen Field on October 20, 2023. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Scoring a game-winning goal is memorable. Scoring two, in back-to-back National Women’s Soccer League playoff matches, is unforgettable. And, that’s exactly what Veronica Latsko has been doing at OL Reign.

In recent weeks, Latsko has come in clutch and scored both of OL Reign’s goals in its pair of 1-0 playoff victories over Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC. She’s only the third NWSL player to score two game-winners in a single postseason, according to Opta Sport.

Goalscoring machine

U.S. and OL Reign midfielder Emily Sonnett, who played alongside Latsko at the University of Virginia, said that the OL Reign forward is “relentless” and matches her offensive output with her defensive intensity. 

“She’s always been a really hard worker … (and) able to do the defensive stuff,” Sonnett said. “I think anyone would say that she almost works too hard. We’re kind of like, ‘You might need a run a little bit less. It might help you.’”

Since graduating from Virginia in 2017, Latsko has played for the Houston Dash, Adelaide United and Sydney FC, scoring 12 goals in the Australian W-League. Since 2022, she’s been in Seattle. 

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This season, Latsko has scored seven goals and added two assists in 20 matches played, including 12 starts. OL Reign exercised the option on her contract in July, keeping her around through the 2024 season.

OL Reign coming closer

The Reign has come close, though, in its 10 previous seasons. The Seattle-based team is a playoff regular, having won three shields and twice finished runner-ups in the 2014 and 2015 finals. 

But playoff success has frequently eluded them. Before its semifinal win over Angel City, the Reign had a 2-6 postseason record and hadn’t won a playoff match since 2015.

“I think building on that momentum (of the last two playoff games) has been really important for us, coming into the final,” Latsko said. “Having everybody doing their jobs collectively and working as a unit as we have been has been really important for us to get these results.”

Reign head coach Laura Harvey praised Latsko in the press conference after the Reign’s semifinal win, calling her “the epitome of ‘work hard and good things will happen to you.’”

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“She works her socks off,” Harvey said. “Every single day. We have all the data and all that stuff. She always is the one that has done the most … She’s getting the reward.”

With each game-winner, OL Reign moves closer to checking that final box. 

Incredible goal

The 27-year-old from Pennsylvania scored a header in the 87th minute of the Reign’s quarterfinal win hosting Angel City FC. Then, Latsko helped the Reign take down shield winner San Diego Wave FC on the road, thanks to a 47th-minute long-range cross that dipped and tucked into the back post.

“My mother would absolutely kill me if I tried to lie to everybody and myself (that it was a shot),” Latsko said, laughing, while at the NWSL championship’s media day. “It’d be like, ‘You are 100% lying. That is so poor character on your part.’”

Latsko has won an NWSL Shield, a preseason Challenge Cup tournament and the cross-league Women’s Cup, but she — and the Reign — have yet to lift the NWSL championship trophy. 

Chance to win a championship

“These past couple of weeks have been pretty unparalleled,” OL Reign forward Veronica Latsko said when asked about her career so far.

Now, Latsko and the Reign have the chance to win the league title on Saturday as they face NY/NJ Gotham FC in the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League championship in San Diego, California. 

“I love tournament soccer (because) anybody can win on any given day, and it’s crazy,” Latsko said. “You need a mixture of hard work, quality and luck.”

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As to whether Latsko feels pressure to continue her streak and score a game-winner in the NWSL championship — not quite.

“I think this season has been one where I haven’t felt that pressure where, I am just like, ‘Okay, things will happen if I do everything that I need to do right and do everything that’s in my control.”

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