SEATTLE, WA –– (club release) In front of a crowd of 4,682 fans, Seattle Reign FC ended its current four-game winless streak with a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dash. This was the Reign’s first and only game at Memorial Stadium in the month of June this season, as they are on the road for the next two weeks.
The Reign (3-3-2, 11 points) maintained possession for most of the match, as the Dash (2-4-1, 7 points) were content to sit back and play the counter. The best chances for the Reign in the first half came from set pieces, taking two corners in the half.
In the 26th minute, Jess Fishlock earned a corner for the Reign after nutmegging her defender in a 1v1 battle. The resulting set piece from Lauren Barnes was met by a diving Kendall Fletcher who sent her header on frame. Dash goalkeeper Lydia Williams made the initial save, and then denied Rachel Corsie’s attempt on the deflection to keep the score line at 0-0.
The two teams went into halftime deadlocked at 0-0, with no dangerous chances created from the run of play.
Things stayed the same in the second half, with the Reign continuing to create chances off of set pieces and control most of the possession in the game. A Kim Little corner found an open Keelin Winters in the box in the 63th minute, and Winter’s header was tipped over the crossbar by Williams.
The only goal of the game came just three minutes later after an extended passing sequence from the Reign. Beverly Yanez collected the ball at the top of the box with her back to goal, and dropped it off to a wide-open Havana Solaun just outside the 18. Solaun took a touch and ripped a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal, just past the outstretched hand of Williams.
“I talked to Bev [Yanez] about it after the game, and she said she looked up and I was just so open,” said Solaun. “I think just about everyone on the field yelled for me to shoot.”
Solaun’s goal was the first of her NWSL career. The second-year player made her first NWSL start in today’s game and was named the player of the game.
Seattle continued to look for a second goal as the second half was winding down. In the 75th minute, Merritt Mathias trapped the ball at the top of the box with a defender on her back. Mathias was able to turn and shoot, but her shot was just over the crossbar.
Defensively the Reign notched their second straight shutout, their fourth total on the season. Hope Solo wasn’t tested much throughout the match, with the Dash taking most of their shots from outside the box.
The match also marked the return of several Reign and Dash players from international duty. Hope Solo, Jess Fishlock, Kim Little, and Rachel Corsie all started and played the full 90 after playing for their respective national teams over the past week. The Dash had seven players return for tonight’s game: Morgan Brian, Denise O’Sullivan, Janine Beckie, Allysha Chapman, Andressa, Poliana, and Lydia Williams.
Seattle and Houston will face each other one more time this season. The match is scheduled for September 25 at BBVA Compass Stadium, and will be the final game of the 2016 NWSL regular-season for both teams. Sunday’s result puts the Reign’s all-time record against the Dash at 6-0-0.
Today’s result moves Reign up one spot in the NWSL standings to sixth place, passing Sky Blue FC with 11 points on the season. Houston remains on 7 points for the season, and is now in eighth place after the loss. Currently the Red Stars are in possession of first place with their 1-1 draw against Portland Thorns FC earlier today.
Up next, the Reign head to New Jersey to take on Sky Blue FC on June 19 at 3:00 p.m. PT at Yurcak Field in the first game of a two-game road trip.
Seattle will look to improve on its all-time record of 3-3-3 against Sky Blue. The previous meeting between the two teams was a 2-1 win for Sky Blue in the season opener, the first regular-season home loss for Seattle since August 17, 2013 – a span of 974 days.