PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Seattle Reign FC scored three goals after halftime — including the equalizer and match-winner in a three-minute stretch — on their way to a 3-1 victory at Sky Blue FC that extended their unbeaten run to 10 matches. The draw actually snapped a two-match winless streak that included draws at Kansas City and home to the Flash. Sky Blue dropped their second straight at home following their 1-0 win in Portland two days before Memorial Day.
Sky Blue led 1-0 at halftime on the strength of quality midfield play and a cracking shot by Katy Freels that beat Hope Solo to the upper left corner. The Reign responded quickly with goals in the 50th and 53rd minutes, and added one in the 74th to salt away their 24th, 25th, and 26th points of the season. Nahomi Kawasumi scored twice.
“We just spoke about a few things we didn’t think we were doing great in the first half,” Reign coach Laura Harvey said of the halftime adjustments. “We felt like we were one pass away or one win away from causing them a problem in the first half. I think two of the goals came from that.”
The first goal came after a throw-in when Beverly Goebel was sent through on the left wing. She played the ball through Caitlin Foord’s legs, and then through CoCo Goodson and Cami Levin, who got turned around on her mark. That was Kawasumi who got off a shot that beat Brittany Cameron to tie the score. Three minutes later, Christie Rampone fouled Beverly Goebel a few feet above the 18-yard box. Rampone entered the match having committed only eight total fouls in her NWSL career, but this one put Kim Little over a free kick and she nailed it to the far post for her league-leading 9th goal of the season.
“Questionable foul, but a good free kick,” Sky Blue coach Jim Gabarra said. Gabarra added that his team continues to, “have moments when we shut off.”
“I came away with it and I thought I got the ball,” Rampone said.
The Reign were mostly comfortable the rest of the way. Lauren Barnes snuck up from her center back spot and hit the post and a few moments later Little made a perfectly timed run to take a through-ball from Stephanie Cox. With the Sky Blue defense leaning right, Kawasumi had acres of space on the Reign right and walked on to Little’s pass and literally walked it in for the 3-1 final.
The Sky Blue goal was a thing of beauty from Freels late in the 1st half. Facing goal with only a swarm of Reign defenders between her and Solo, she unleashed a world-class strike with her left foot leaving the U.S. No. 1 no chance.
“What we’re good at is keeping players outside of our box,” Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock said. “That’s one thing that we pride ourselves in. When someone hits a strike from 20 yards and manages to beat Hope, you just have to give them a clap and say ‘okay, well done, good shot.'”
The Reign (8-0-2, 26 points) are home Saturday against the second-place Red Stars, while Sky Blue are back at Yurcak Field next Sunday for their first meeting with the Houston Dash.
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