Sluggish start, thrilling finish.
After twice trailing by one-goal margins, the Seattle Reign remained unbeaten in memorable fashion Sunday when Kim Little knocked in the game-tying goal in stoppage time, earning a 2-2 tie with Abby Wambach and the Western New York Flash in front of a club-record crowd of 4,018 at Memorial Stadium.
The tie, Seattle’s second straight, keeps the Reign atop the nine-team National Women’s Soccer League standings at 7-0-2. Western New York (3-3-2) sits in fifth.
For a team that has rarely trailed in a match all season, pulling out a last-minute tie was a rewarding change of pace.
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“Obviously, we want to win every match,” said Little, who went far post off a pass from Bev Goebel to tie the match and stay tied for the league lead in goals with eight. “For us to be down 1-0 and then 2-1 and to come back, we can be glad. But we’ve got a lot of things to work on.”
Among those would be starting games with more fire.
“You could see it in the second half,” Little said. “Our movement was a lot better. In the first half it was a bit static. That’s one thing we could improve on.”
Coach Laura Harvey had an inkling her players might start slowly.
“In those first 25 minutes we were sloppy, and in the second half of the first half we became ourselves again. Part of it is we were very critical of ourselves after the Kansas game (last Wednesday’s 1-1 tie at FC Kansas City, the Reign’s first blemish after seven straight wins to open the season.)
“Probably for the first time at a halftime I had to gig ’em out a little bit,” Harvey said, “and they reacted brilliantly in the second half.”
Wambach scored the game’s first goal in the 17th minute on a pass from Sonia Bermudez when Seattle was unable to clear a ball deep in its end.
Just before halftime, Jessica Fishlock took a cross from Stephanie Cox and bumped it in from close range to tie it. A Flash corner kick in the 62nd minute led to Carli Lloyd’s header into the goal for a 2-1 New York lead.
“From the second half of the first half to the end I think we dominated,” said Fishlock. “We gave away two sloppy goals, but we have that mentality right now that we just won’t be beat.”