Losing a 16-game unbeaten streak to Chicago? Disheartening for Reign FC. But playing the same team the next weekend and coming out with a 1-1 tie? That was worse, according to Seattle coach Laura Harvey.
“I think the reason we’re disappointed today is because we thought we deserved more out of the game than what we got,” Harvey said. “Last week we were disappointed that we lost because of everything that we lost – undefeated and blah, blah, blah. But we’re more disappointed today because we thought we played better than what we actually got in the game.”
Payback didn’t happen on the pitch fat Memorial Stadium on Sunday, but it wasn’t all gloom in Seattle’s locker room.
Despite giving up a late goal after taking the lead in the 70th minute, the Reign (13-1-4) became the first team in the National Women’s Soccer League to clinch a playoff spot. This comes one year after Seattle went 5-14-3 in its inaugural season.
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Sunday’s game before a crowd of 3,030 was a rematch of the July 12 match in Lisle, Ill., that produced Seattle’s first loss on the season by a 1-0 score.
In the 70th minute, a rebound of a Kim Little free kick came out to Nahomi Kawasumi, who floated it over to the far side to Sydney Leroux. Leroux tapped it to Kendall Fletcher, who adjusted her footwork enough to send a quick assist Bev Goebel’s way, and Goebel popped it inside.
On the day after Goebel’s 26th birthday, it was a sweet moment.
“Kendall kind of picked her head up and saw me in the middle and just played a really nice ball across,” Goebel said. “I’m just really thankful I was able to put it away for the team because I thought everyone worked extremely hard today.”
But that 1-0 Seattle lead only held until the 81st minute, when Christen Press collected a pass from Jennifer Hoy after Seattle turned the ball over. Hope Solo dived too early, and Press slipped a shot right behind Solo.
Seattle outshot the Red Stars for the match, 12-3.
In last weekend’s game, Chicago (7-6-6) scored its goal in the 18th minute. There was no scoring in the first half Sunday.
Seattle had several scoring opportunities – five of its nine shots in the first half were on goal.
“I thought in the first half that we were by far the better team,” Harvey said. “I don’t think they could compete with us the way they moved the ball and it was probably the best first half we’ve had in a long time.”
The Red Stars made few pushes into Seattle territory early, and didn’t get a shot off until the 33rd minute. That shot ended up being one of only two Chicago attempts in the first half.
With the 1-1 tie, Seattle extends its lead atop the NWSL standings, with 43 total points – seven ahead of second-place FC Kansas City.
“It’s great being in the playoffs,” Harvey said of Sunday’s match clinching a postseason spot for the Reign. “But we haven’t done anything yet.”