SEATTLE,WA –– (Reign release) On a cloudy evening at Memorial Stadium, Seattle Reign FC battled to a 1-1 tie against the Western New York Flash in front of a crowd of 4,521 fans. The match was also BECU Olympic Sendoff Night and featured a pre-match ceremony to celebrate Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe’s selection to the USWNT Olympic roster.
“This is my home base,” said Rapinoe. “This team has been integral in my recovery and my rehab, and sort of getting back into training…I’m already home.”
The tie pushed Reign FC’s (4-4-5, 17 pts) record in its past five games to 1-1-3 and marked the second time this season the Reign FC offense has scored in three consecutive matches. The Reign FC defense held the Flash to just one goal for the first time in the Flash’s past four games.
“Similar to last week really, where we were dominant and didn’t take chances,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey. “Even with the amount of possession the team had [we] created enough chances.”
Reign FC came out of the gates quickly against the Flash, scoring their fastest goal of the season. Keelin Winters’ attempted pass out of the midfield was deflected by a Flash player. The ball then shot between the two Flash centerbacks Abby Erceg and Abby Dahlkemper into the open field. A sprinting Manon Melis was there to jump on the ball and slid a wide-open shot into the back of the net.
Then, for the second game in a row, the Reign allowed a goal just before the halftime whistle. Jalene Hinkle sent a Flash corner kick to the back post of the net, where Dahlkemper was there to head the ball back across the front of the net. Jessica McDonald was there waiting and tied the game at 1-1.
“We conceded late in the half and then I thought the second half, we couldn’t really get going,” said Harvey. “We created some opportunities later on in the game. The Flash are difficult to play, they’re a hard team to play against, and credit to them because they made the game difficult.”
This marked the first ever goal for McDonald against the Reign. McDonald now has four goals and four assists in the past four matches for the Flash.
Neither team found the back of the net in the second half, but the Flash’s league-leading offense came out aggressively looking for a goal. The Reign FC defense held strong, and goalkeeper Andi Tostanoski made three saves in her first-ever professional start.
“There’s always nerves going in to something like that, but as soon as I started playing and really settled down, the girls did a great job just communicating with me and telling me what I needed to do for them,” said Tostanoski. “It’s such a great experience to be able to play on this team, on this field, [and] in this league.”
Jess Fishlock was awarded Reign FC player of the match for her efforts, once again going the full 90 minutes for the club. Fishlock was strong in the midfield, and had several key defensive clearances on set pieces throughout the match.
The match also marked the first NWSL start for Japanese international Rumi Utsugi. Utsugi had played 15 minutes in Reign FC’s previous match against the Flash, and went the full 90 minutes tonight at the outside back position.
“We didn’t see as much as we wanted out of her [Utsugi] higher on the field, but I think you saw, at times, how good she can be,” said Harvey. “Her quality on the ball is great.”
Before the match, Reign FC honored Senator Pramila Jayapal as a Reign FC Legend for her extraordinary achievements on behalf of our community. Jayapal has been a leading activist for human rights for the past two decades, and led one of the largest voter registration efforts in Washington state, helping over 23,000 Americans register to vote.
Today’s result gives Reign FC 17 points on the season, good for 6th place on the NWSL table. Seattle is currently just four points out of a playoff slot, behind the Chicago Red Stars who currently sit in 4th with 21 points.
With the tie, the Western New York Flash now have 25 points, but have moved down one spot in the standings to third place. The Portland Thorns still remain in first place with 26 points, as they hold the tie-breaker over the Washington Spirit, who also have 26 points.
“We have to be ruthless [going forward],” said Reign FC defender Lauren Barnes. “We just have to put teams away. We’re looking for that win next week.”
Up next, Reign FC hosts the Orlando Pride on July 23 at 7:00 p.m. PT. This will be the Pride’s first ever trip to Memorial Stadium. Next Saturday’s match will be the final meeting between the two teams this season.