After suffering back-to-back road losses, the Seattle Reign powered past the Washington Spirit, 3-1, to earn a second consecutive home win and three crucial points.
The two teams are now level on points (six) but the Reign sit just above the Spirit based on goal differential. Coming into the match, the Reign were in sixth place—with just three points from three games played. The Spirit were in a more favorable second place, but history showed they were likely to face an uphill battle on the road against the Reign.
Having now faced off six times in Seattle since the NWSL was formed, the Spirit have only come away victorious once—in the teams’ first-ever meeting.
With the all-time series against the two teams averaging 3.14 goals per game (prior to tonight), this match was bound to be anything but goalless.
The home team struck first, when Beverly Yanez scored in the 36th minute. Merritt Mathias found herself on the receiving end of a free kick, dribbled down the left flank and sent in a low cross inside the 18, where Yanez roofed the ball past Kelsey Wys and into the upper 90.
Mathias continued her impressive display just minutes after the second half started, when she scored her first goal as a member of the Reign.
After intercepting the ball right in the middle of the field, Jess Fishlock and the Reign displayed great passing technique, which saw Kim Little make a great overlapping run into the 18. Running to the endline, Little sent in a cross toward the back post. Running toward the post, Mathias used her body well to give the home team a 2-0 lead.
It has been said many times that a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead in soccer. The Spirit showed just that when Joanna Lohman pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 63rd minute.
After Fishlock lost control of the ball, the Spirit put together a nice string of passes including Christine Nairn’s forward pass to Crystal Dunn, who was 20 yards away from goal. Surrounded by Reign players, Dunn played a great ball into a charging Lohman, who easily slotted the ball into the lower right corner to put the visitors back into the match.
With the 2-1 score line sticking for just over 10 minutes, Fishlock struck the dagger in the 75th minute.
A great ball from Little combined with a perfectly-timed run and a tap from Fishlock solidified the home team’s victory.
With the standings closer than ever (and the third through fifth place teams all equal on points), maintaining good form—especially during the Women’s World Cup with many players missing—is essential.
Next up, the Spirit take on the first-place Portland Thorns at Providence Park in Portland on Saturday for the teams’ first meeting this season. The Reign also play next on Saturday, with the team traveling to New Jersey to take on seventh place Sky Blue FC.
SEA: Yanez (Mathias) 36′
SEA: Mathias (Little) 48′
WAS: Lohman (Dunn) 63′
SEA: Fishlock (Little) 75′
SEA: Haley Kopmeyer, Elli Reed, Kendall Fletcher, Lauren Barnes, Stephanie Cox, Keelin Winters, Jess Fishlock (Amber Brooks 79), Kim Little, Kiersten Dallstream, Beverly Yanez (Danielle Foxhoven 79), Merritt Mathias (Rachel Corsie 90)
WAS: Kelsey Wys, Katherine Reynolds, Megan Oyster, Crystal Dunn, Alex Singer, Estelle Johnson, Christine Nairn (Amanda Da Costa 76), Joanna Lohman (Angela Salem 84), Tori Huster, Francisca Ordega, Estefania Banini