Reign FC Sews Up 2nd Straight NWSL Shield

The Seattle Reign FC put the finishing touches on its second straight National Women’s Soccer League Shield with a 3-1 victory over the Boston Breakers on Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium Wednesday.

Reign goalkeeper Hope Solo nabbed two saves on six Boston shots, and on the other end of the pitch, her offense was outstanding as usual. The matchup pitted the league’s highest-ranked in Seattle against the league’s lowest-ranked defense in Boston; and the score line reflected the statistics as the home team garnered 13 shots on the night.

No. 1 continued her dominance on the pitch by remaining effective at not only stopping an offense cold, but also through lining up her personnel on set pieces and thwarting scoring opportunities for the opposition. To that end, Boston had four corner kicks, which resulted in four missed chances. Seattle’s team defense was so staunch that it took the Breakers until the 88th minute to crack Hope’s wall with a goal by Maddy Evans.

“It feels great to get the Shield. As a group, we are overall disappointed we let a goal in but I thought we dominated the game,” Reign head coach and general manager Laura Harvey said. “I think it’s a fantastic achievement for the group.”

While Hope held it down on the back end, the Seattle offense more than kept up its end of the bargain. Midfielder Kim Little got things going midway through the first half with a feed to defender Stephanie Cox, who sent in a low cross that was finished by forward Megan Rapinoe to give the Reign a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.

Shortly thereafter, defender Kendall Fletcher intercepted a clearance in the 34th minute and scored from the top of Naeher’s box, giving Seattle a two-goal cushion at the halfway point. Just 10 minutes out of the break, Little delivered the dagger. Rapinoe assisted the reigning MVP, whose back heel made it a 3-0 lead for the home team.

Boston got one back late as Evans got one past Hope with mere minutes left in the match, but Seattle finished strong to close out the 3-1 to clinch the NWSL regular season title.

NEXT UP

After locking up their second consecutive Shield and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming four-team playoff, Seattle is positioned to host a Round 1 matchup in the NWSL’s four-team single-elimination playoff.

That match is slated for Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. PT at Memorial Stadium, with a spot in the NWSL championship game on Oct. 1 in Portland on the line. But their opponent for the semifinal is yet to be determined, and the Reign know they can’t look too far ahead with two games still left in the regular season.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on just keeping our eye on what’s most important,” Rapinoe said. “Obviously winning the league is important, but we want to have good performances going through and making sure that we are clicking when it counts.”

Winners of seven of their last eight games, the Reign are certainly clicking at the moment. After Wednesday’s win they’ve already turned their attention to staying sharp in an effort to keep their hot streak going into postseason play.

That effort starts this Saturday when they host their final regular season home match of the season, against Sky Blue FC. As Rapinoe noted, it’ll be all about keeping the throttle open as they roar into the postseason.

The match with Sky Blue from Memorial Stadium in Seattle is set for a 7 p.m. PT kickoff and can be seen live on the NWSL YouTube Channel.

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