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Sky Blue surprise Reign, bust Memorial streak at 22

Sky Blue became the first team to go to Memorial Stadium and beat Seattle Reign FC, surprising the two-time Shield winners 2-1 in front of 3,987 mostly stunned onlookers. Tasha Kai–away from the game since 2011–opened the scoring and Kelly Conheeney–whose career once seemed dead due to lingering effects from concussions–scored the game-winner. Along the way, Hope Solo stopped Sarah Killion on a penalty kick and Merritt Mathias scored an equalizing goal for Seattle.

Kai opened the scoring getting on the end of a Kelley O’Hara cross following a solid, but against the run of play, buildup that Kai played a part in. Later in the first half, Mathias pushed O’Hara down from behind in the box to win a penalty but Solo–after getting booked during a chat with referee Karen Abt–went to her right to save Killion’s attempt.

The Reign equalized early in the second half when a Jess Fishlock effort to the far post was headed into the top corner by Mathias. But on a day when the Reign were uncharacteristically out of sync at the back, a horrendous distribution pass by Solo went straight to Shawna Gordon. The play when through O’Hara to Taylor Lytle on the right side. Lytle’s chip-cross went off Solo’s fingertips and Conheeney was able to knock it into an empty goal with a flying side kick right on the line.

The Reign moved to Memorial Stadium in 2014 and were 16-0-6 in regular season games there before Sunday. They also won semifinal matches at Memorial both years. The club’s only loss in Seattle during that time was the 2014 NWSL Championship to FC Kansas City. That Championship game was forced to Starfire Sports Complex because the Bumpershoot music festival was booked at Memorial.

Sky Blue (1-0-0, 3 points), now 3-0-1 in season openers, head home to host the Washington Spirit next Sunday. The Reign (0-1-0, 0 points) are in Boston, also on Sunday.


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