Reign accomplishes its goal of scoring fast, and scoring often

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The Seattle Reign FC won its season opener 5-1 against Western New York on Sunday.

Western New York challenged Seattle’s 2-0 lead with a nice finish from midfielder Jordan Angeli in the 68th minute. Reign forward Megan Rapinoe responded with a barrage of three goals within a span of 13 minutes.

Rapinoe completed the hat trick with a header off a perfect cross from midfielder Jess Fishlock in the 86th minute. Rapinoe wildly did a montage of celebration moves, admitting later she was running out of ways to celebrate her goals.

“I definitely was, all the weird things I was doing out there,” Rapinoe said. “I don’t think I’ve had a hat trick since I was like 12. The last one was my favorite (goal). Jess did a great job in getting that ball in there and I haven’t scored a header in a long time. Especially not two in one game.”

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Up 2-1, Rapinoe’s high-flying header in the 71st minute marked a change Seattle hopes continues. Last season, the team lost leads or had to rally to pull out victories, finishing the season 8-0-4 at Memorial Stadium.

Sunday, the Reign displayed a strong counterattack. Seattle had nine shots on goal in the second half, scoring four.

“We managed the game excellently at the end,” Seattle coach Laura Harvey said. “We kept moving forward. We kept pushing. Their goalkeeper (Sabrina D’Angelo) made some great saves to keep the score down. But then finally we got that great stretch.”

Seattle was 2-0-1 against Western New York last season, winning both road matchups in Rochester by a score of 2-1. The lone game in Seattle was a 2-2 draw, with Kim Little scoring the equalizer in stoppage play.

Sunday, Fishlock opened the scoring before 2,642 spectators mostly wearing paper Reign crowns. Rapinoe lobbed a perfect pass in front of Fishlock, who had a flying kick into the goal in the 25th minute.

The score settled a frantic start in the season opener. Forward Sydney Leroux was traded to Western New York from Seattle before the season and was determined to score against her former teammates.

The Flash, which won the National Women’s Soccer League Shield in 2013, is a revamped team, however, and players often looked unfamiliar with each other. Defender Brittany Taylor remains from the 2013 team and the roster features four first-round players from the draft before this season.

Seattle, which won the NWSL Shield last season, has only five new faces. Once the veteran squad found its rhythm, it was dominate and precise.

“Moving forward, we want to be able to identify things that we want to do a little faster,” Fishlock said. “But scoring goals is one of the hardest things to do. We lacked scoring goals in open play last season, especially the first part of the season. To score five in open play, and some of them were absolutely fantastic goals, that’s something we can be very happy with.”