Anatomy of a textbook save

Growing up, in youth sports and the like, we get taught the fundamentals. At a certain point, they stop being drilled every practice, just because it is assumed that they have become so ingrained in the player.

For those who may have discovered the game later, or who didn’t play the position, sometimes professionals manage to make something look completely routine. It’s probably worth investing a little time in breaking down the routine, because just because something looks simple doesn’t make it that way.

Thanks to burst-mode digital photography and a shooting perspective to the left of the goalkeeper not much above the six-yard box it’s possible to walk through a save Caroline Casey of Sky Blue made on Manon Melis of the Seattle Reign frame by frame.


Our view starts two strides after Manon Melis has taken service on a ball switched to her from either Bev Yanez or Jess Fishlock. Merritt Mathias is making a far-post-run, but the defender (I believe Erica Skroski) is well positioned to deny the pass if Melis can even see Mathias. Casey makes the right decision to stand her ground and “make herself big.” Her alternative choice is to attack the ball, which leaves the opportunity that Melis will step around her and put the ball into an unprotected net or chip over her should she go to ground.

From Melis’ angle, she can likely see a little space short-side and a fraction far-side, particularly if she can get the ball up, but not far enough to miss the top corner. Casey has her squared well, and particularly with the angle of Melis’ shoulders, can expect to have the shot come either right at her or to her left.


Melis makes a little adjustment in launching the shot, and drives it on frame. Casey adjusts by lowering her centre of mass while keeping her ‘wingspan’ wide.


Sure enough, the shot comes right for her.



Because of Melis’ momentum, Casey doesn’t have the chance to try to catch- her option is to put the ball somewhere safe. In this case, it spins out to her left, and safely crosses the touchline.

DSC06679 Never giving up on the play, she recovers her feet and focus while the returning left centre back peels off to pursue the ball- or more accurately, make certain that Melis doesn’t have a good angle to get to it.

If it looks simple, it largely is, particularly if the play is developing slowly. The six-frame sequence illustrated here, though transpired in between a third and a half-second- there isn’t time to think, just react, and it’s only experience which makes the difference. Some of us never succeeded in subduing the instinct to challenge the shooter here.

Seasons change and streaks end

Seattle Reign FC 1
Sky Blue FC 2
Seattle, WA – Memorial Stadium – April 17, 2016


The Seattle Reign FC entered the 2016 with a two year unbeaten run on the home turf at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium. The team that came closest to ending that streak late in 2015 was Sky Blue FC. But for a Jess Fishlock header with 89:56 showing and stoppage time looming the streak would have ended. Instead, the streak continues into 2016 and is one of many storylines for the Reign FC in year 4 of the NWSL.


The 2015 late season game saw Sky Blue grab an early goal a bit against the run of play and then almost hang on before a late equalizer. Natasha Kai’s 15th minute header slipped past the Reign defense and with it one-nil at the half, shades of deja vu were written all over this match. Hope Solo kept the Reign close with a penalty save in the 36th, drawing a yellow prior delaying the kick.

The second half kicked off with more pace and in the 52nd Seattle equalized as Little to Fishlock led to a ball across the goal and a Merritt Mathias header. Early second half pressure from the Reign had paid off, but Sky Blue never let the tying goal alter their approach.

Sky Blue showed commitment to pressure and effort in spite of less possession and gathered a weak Reign defensive clearance to get it to 2-1 with a goal by Kelly Conheeney in the 68th wide open at the far post.

Pressure on the ball throughout the match put Sky Blue into a number of good positions in spite of Seattle possession. Sky Blue played composed high pressure defense throughout, making up for relatively less experience on the field with smart hustle and opportunistic finishing. Leadership in the defensive end by Christie Rampone and dangerous runs by Kelly O’Hara were difference makers in the match.

For the Reign, the streak is over. For Sky Blue FC a hard earned win to open season four.


2015 in Seattle gave local soccer supporters an opportunity to watch three amazing streaks continue.

In August at the 89:56 mark just as stoppage time would begin, it was Jess Fishlock off of nice Kim Little cross. The Reign FC two season home unbeaten run was safe.

In October, late in the USA v Brazil friendly in Seattle it was Carli Lloyd from Meghan Klingenberg. The USWNT home unbeaten streak would last after all.

In November, the UW scored first, but WSU rallied and took a 3-1 victory. WSU sustained its 12 year run over its cross state rivals.

Three impressive streaks. A few months later and only one of them continues.


The streaks were of completely different types.  The Reign had stormed through two seasons of top tier league play.  The USA had played a mix of various qualifiers and friendlies over a several year period.  The college rivalry is annual with players turning over in eligibility cycles. The opportunities for these streaks to continue and what they represent is different. It will be several months before the next opportunity for the UW to end that streak.


Goalkeeper Guys – This is Jeff

I am Jeffrey Lageson and I write the Coach’s Corner pieces for and, covering the Seattle Reign FC, USWNT, and often the occasional other match like when WSU plays UW.

To provide a little background I have been a lifelong soccer player, supporter, coach, occasional ref, and soccer writer since 1974.45958_10150253613580311_4129818_n

I began playing goalie in my second year of youth soccer for The Wildebeests. We kicked serious butt.


I mostly played keeper growing up, lettering at Mountlake Terrace High School.


It was a different era back in those days and I played for the club team at WSU.



I began coaching after college, taking the opportunity to coach goalkeepers at North Central High School in Spokane and at my high school alma mater.  From there, I got the opportunity to coach goalkeepers at my college alma mater, returning to Pullman to be a part of the 1994 WSU Women’s Soccer program that made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 and a regular season ending #19 ranking.



Over the years I have continued to coach youth soccer, including my daughter’s team and running summer camps at a local private school.


And yes, I still play when I can.




Photos courtesy WSU Athletics, Bob Keilin, and various family members.

Reign FC ready for NWSL season 4

Coach’s Corner

Seattle Reign FC enter NWSL Season 4 with trophies in the cabinet, a home field unbeaten streak of two full seasons, and much still to do. Two consecutive Shield wins have been tempered by two consecutive Cup Final one goal losses, leaving a sense of more to be done.

2016 is here with the Reign and the NWSL having new sponsorships like Microsoft on their kits, a TV deal with FS1 announced before the season, dealing with it being an Olympic year, USWNT legal drama, and new Nike kits all around.

The Reign bring back almost all of their starters from the past two seasons, but have new depth on their bench, a first round draft pick in Carson Pickett that looks ready to play right away, a new international Manon Melis, and very little disruption from only having two Olympians on the roster. With Megan Rapinoe still recovering from surgery, the possibility of her late season addition for another Shield and Cup Final run in is out there for fans to look forward to.


The Reign cut through their preseason 4-0, defeating NWSL rivals and local college sides, only seeing two goals against in the four matches.

The returning Reign starters include internationals like Kim Little. Bev Yanez had a breakout year in 2015 and in the UW preseason match showed playmaking abilities when moved back into a midfield role. Several Reign players spent the offseason playing in Australia, so there could be some concern over year round play, but the August break could be the difference between a good run in at the end and burn out down the stretch.

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A healthy Havana Solaun added to the mix after missing what would have been her rookie season in 2015 is the sort of additional story line Reign fans can follow as 2016 unfolds.

The Reign open NWSL play at home against Sky Blue FC on Sunday April 17 at 4PM local time.


Seattle Reign 2016 Kit unveiling

The Goalkeeper Guys are live from Seattle’s Hard Rock Cafe for tonight’s kit unveiling. Stay tuned through the evening for updates and photos from the event.



Luuuuuu Barnes, Smilin’ Bev Yanez, the back of HKop’s head, and MerrBear!

Oh, and there will be some BIG NEWS, but it’s too early to tell you.

5:38   The Predmores and Laura Harvey are taking a seat, so we may be close to getting started.


And awaaaaay we go.
5:49  Unexpected big news broken by Bill Predmore. BEEEEEEER! Reign FC have found a way around the Seattle School Board ban on alcohol. Georgetown Brewing will be providing beer in a beer garden just outside the stadium.

5:50 The Austen Everett Foundation and Water 1st will be returning as community partners. If you’ve been following the team, Teresa Predmore, Lu Barnes, and Elli Reed spent some time in the off-season in Ethiopia raising awareness on how severely the lack of access to clean water has an adverse impact in parts of the world – and how disproportionately this falls on youmg girls.


Kendall Fletcher with the Reign Royal Blue Piccolo Venetian, which will through the Legends Campaign recognize the contributions of women in the Pacific Northwest who have set an example of excellence at home and beyond.

The Reign Academy has also been accepted to the Elite Clubs National League – the top organization for the development of female soccer players in the country.

Misrosoft will be the new kit primary sponsor. We should get a look shortly.


Oh, my. Royal blue and platinum on the home kit, vivid yellow with black for the road kit, and the goalkeepers will be in black and platinum. Pictures coming shortly.

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