Brittany Ratcliffe has been wearing an orange bow in her hair since playing at the University of Virginia. What started off as a way for her parents to spot her on the field because all of her teammates also had long, blonde hair has become a gameday staple for the Utah Royals FC forward.
On Saturday night, Ratcliffe’s parents didn’t need to worry about spotting her on the field.
Ratcliffe, wearing her orange bow that she bought from A.C. Moore in 2012, entered the game as a substitute for Utah in the 77th minute. Utah was on the road facing the league-leading and then-undefeated North Carolina Courage in Week 12 action. Ratcliffe jumped right into the match and in the 94th minute scored one of the biggest goals in the NWSL to date.
The New Jersey native’s goal came off of a set piece opportunity for Utah. Utah Royals FC midfielder Diana Matheson took a free kick from a distance that set up a scramble just outside the box. Ratcliffe battled with the Courage’s backline to win the ball and managed to not only win it, but get up, shoot, and finish into the upper left corner for the game-winner. Ratcliffe’s goal spoiled the Courage’s 12-game unbeaten streak and gave her team their third win in the last four games.
— NWSL (@NWSL) June 17, 2018
“Well it all happened so fast,” Ratcliffe told NWSL Media when reached by phone on Wednesday. “When I saw it go in it was a pure reaction and then I looked up and I saw it was about to go in the net, and I don’t even know what happened after! I just remember screaming so loud, freaking out, and my teammates jumping on me.”
Ratcliffe’s teammates, her coach Laura Harvey, the fans, and her parents — who were in the stands that night — were also freaking out.
“When I went back on social media and everyone was showing me all the videos of the sidelines I had tears in my eyes,” Ratcliffe said. “It was so cool to see how much winning that game and doing well in that game meant to everybody, what it meant to Laura, what it mean to A-Rod [Amy Rodriguez] on the sideline, and even the players on the field.”
— Utah Royals FC (@UtahRoyalsFC) June 19, 2018
“I lost my mind for ten seconds,” head coach Laura Harvey said after the game. “I jumped on Scott. And then I started asking, ‘How much time is left?’”
Ratcliffe felt the same way after she scored.
“There wasn’t a lot of time left and I remember saying, ‘Let’s just win the game. All that matters is that we finish this game off strong and we win the three points.'”
When the match ended Ratcliffe had to hold off on the celebrations — she had to run sprints with the rest of the subs.
“I was a sub so we had to do sprints after. But, right after I ran right over to my parents and you could tell they had both been crying. My mom was like ‘I was crying.’ And I was like, ‘Lock it up mom!’ I think they were glad they were there to see it and be a part of it.”
Ratcliffe has played in seven games this season and recorded three starts. She now has two goals on the year, both against the Courage.
“I don’t care if I’m a starter. I don’t care if I’m a sub. I don’t care if I don’t play at all. I just want us to win,” Ratcliffe said. “At the end of this year if we can make it to playoffs and win a championship it will all be worth it to me.”