TUKWILA — Seattle returned to where it all started and found a familiar result.
Reign FC lost, 2-1, to FC Kansas City on Sunday before 4,252 at Starfire Sports Complex in the National Women’s Soccer League championship game.
“It’s hard,” said Seattle coach Laura Harvey, whose team only lost twice during the regular season. “I’ll look back on this season in a couple weeks or months and realize how special it’s been. But ultimately, if you don’t win this game, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Seattle attempted one of its patented second-half rallies after Kansas City (14-7-5) went up 2-0. Forward Megan Rapinoe booted in a goal on a wild scramble in the 87th minute. The Reign had multiple opportunities to draw even in stoppage time, but Rapinoe’s last attempt went wide left, which left her crumbling to the field in disbelief.
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“I just scuffed it wide,” said Rapinoe of the final shot. “Possession-wise, we were really good. We created a lot of chances. We needed to create more within their (box), but we did enough to win. We just didn’t finish.”
The NWSL championship was held at Starfire because of the Bumbershoot festival at Memorial Stadium. The Reign (17-3-6) was undefeated on its new home turf in downtown Seattle.
The Reign’s old field south of the city was part of a past Seattle hoped to fully exorcise on Sunday. The Reign lost nine of its opening 10 games in its inaugural season and was 4-6-1 overall at Starfire to finish seventh among eight teams in 2013.
Harvey, also the team’s general manager, made a bevy a moves that catapulted the team to the top of the standings this season. She said after the semifinal win last week that she was looking forward to the team playing in the championship match so it could display all of its talents.
Kansas City had other ideas regarding the unique setting.
“A few of the girls were talking in the locker room before the game about Seattle not having a great season necessarily on this field last year,” said Kansas City forward Amy Rodriguez, who scored twice. “We thought maybe this would be a little bit of good luck for us. We took it as a little advantage.”
In the 22nd minute, Seattle defender Kendall Fletcher toppled to the field, clearing a way for Kansas City forward Lauren Holiday to tap a pass to Rodriguez. The latter easily lobbed the ball over Seattle goalie Hope Solo from inside the box to put Kansas City up 1-0.
Holiday wove her way through Reign defenders in the second half to set up Rodriguez again, in the 56th minute.
“It was too easy,” Harvey said of Kansas City’s opening goal. “The second goal came from a throw-in. We work all the time on not allowing someone to be able to travel with it. (Lauren) traveled with it, crossed and they scored. Disappointing.”
Holiday was voted the MVP of the title match by media.
“(Starfire) had a different feel about it today from last year,” Harvey said. “It felt like a proper cup final, which is good (but) no one will have a season like we did. It won’t happen again.”