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Calling it the Megan Rapinoe show might be a bit of an overstep, but with a hand in both goals for the home side, there’s no question Rapinoe played a key role in the first win for the Seattle Reign in the post-Laura Harvey era. With a wickedly bending free kick taken about 25 […]
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Led by Nahomi Kawasumi, who set a NWSL record by registering four assists to go along with one goal, and Megan Rapinoe, the Seattle Reign showed their dominance at home with a 6-2 win over the Washington Spirit.
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Reign 5, Dash 1 Scoring summary: SEA 18′ Fishlock (1) (Assist: Nairn) SEA 27′ Rapinoe (2) (Assist: McNabb) SEA 31′ McNabb (1) SEA 55′ Yanez (1) SEA 74′ Johnson (1) HOU 84′ Poliana (1)
On Senior Night at Harrington Field at Western Washington University, one of the highlights for the visiting Central Washington University Wildcats came early, in the fifth minute, when the Vikings’ Becca Cates took a penalty kick which was saved by Wildcat freshman goalkeeper Emily Holt, who then fell on the rebound before any of the Vikings could get to it.
The evening would turn chillier for the visitors in the 20th minute, with Western’s Gabriella Pelogi finding a seam in the middle of the Central defence and burying a shot from the top of the 6-yard area. Minutes later, Pelogi would have a shot at the brace as she was played in by Elise Aylward, but Holt held her ground and was able to corral the shot.
In the 27th minute, the Vikings would make another bid to stretch their margin to two, with Caitlyn Jobanek missing just high with a left footed drive from the top of the box.
The second goal wasn’t long in coming, though, with Liv Larson finding twine behind Holt, curling a drive from just outside the box into the top right corner.
Western continued the pressure on the Wildcat back line, but headed to the turn with just the 2:0 advantage, with junior goalkeeper Ashley Homer barely tested by either of Central’s two shots.
Abby Litka would ruin Homer’s clean sheet in the fiftieth minute, left-footing a shot into the side netting from the left post, after creeping into a seam resulting from a coverage error on a Wildcat corner. The goal conceded snapped a skein of 422 minutes the Viking defence had held opposition off the scoreboard.
“Goals change games,” noted coach Travis Connell, reprising the phrase Laura Harvey has made famous throughout women’s soccer in the Pacific Northwest. “Central is a good team, a strong team, and they play a physical game. We knew this was going to be a test for us, and it gave us something to work on. Even conceding the goal, it gave us something to work on we haven’t gotten to work through very often this season.”
In the 56th, the visitors from Ellensburg would spring McKenzie Nolte behind the Viking defenders, but the cross from Bailey Martoncik was just a little too heavy for Nolte to keep in, and kept the margin at one.
At 2:1, the game settled into more of a back-and-forth struggle until the 70th, when Mariah Roggow capitalized on a feed from Jobanek to restore the Vikings’ cushion to two, where it would remain until the eighty-eighth minute, when Aylward chipped Holt to stretch the score to 4:1.
“I’m just so proud of these girls, the way they’ve worked all season, and their work shows in the record,”Connell concluded.
The win ran Western’ record to 15-0-1 and a perfect 10-0-0 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, and marks the 23rd consecutive home victory for Western. The Vikings close out their campaign with a pair of road matches against Portland Nazarene and Montana State Billings before the GNAC tournament, which will be hosted in Burnaby, British Columbia by Simon Fraser University.
Photo credits to Max Aquino and Jacqui Roddewig, as noted on the respective images
For three seasons Seattle Reign FC has had continuity in the central midfield in the form of the trio of Jessica Fishlock, Keelin Winters, and Kim Little. With few exceptions, Seattle coach Laura Harvey has been able to start said trio knowing Reign FC would be able to defend, attack, counter, and recover with consistency.
Keelin Winters announced her retirement late in the 2016 season. Some changes were coming. Today, the Reign FC and Arsenal Ladies announced the Kim Little was returning to England and her former side.
Little leaves the NWSL and the Reign as both the league and franchise leading scorer with 34 goals. Seattle grabbed two NWSL Shields and played in two NWSL finals with Little, where she also was voted the league MVP in 2014.
Seattle now faces an off-season with much more on field uncertainty than in the past few seasons. Harvey has been able to play a reasonably consistent line up for a few seasons; returning the bulk of her starters from 2014-16. There are options already on the roster, however.
Beverly Yanez has shown good form when in the midfield attacking role in parts of 2016. Although her early Reign career was primarily at striker, 2016 especially saw her moving about into different spots and playing well.
Havana Solaun got minutes early in the season with Fishlock injured and showed definite promise. After sitting out a full season previously, Solaun got an opportunity with the US U23s and in the Seattle midfield.
The Seattle roster still lists attacking options like Naho Kawasumi and Manon Melis as well as having Merritt Mathias capable of stepping into many different roles. Could a player like Lindsay Elston step up into the Winters role? What will a fully healthy and full season from Megan Rapinoe potentially bring? Losing the quality of a Kim Little hurts, but Seattle has roster depth going into the off-season. Seattle has not shown a shyness to make moves, having brought back Naho in mid-season in 2016.
Losing the BBC World Footballer of the Year Kim Little is no small thing. It’s October, but the NWSL off-season just got very interesting in Seattle.