After a pair of international friendlies with the U.S. National Team, Hope Solo made a strong return to the Seattle Reign FC this weekend.
In front of 4,682 spectators at Memorial Stadium, Hope registered four saves to secure her third clean sheet of the NWSL season, as the Reign shut out the Houston Dash at home, 1-0 on Sunday afternoon.
Afterward, Seattle coach Laura Harvey complimented the way her team rose to the challenge.
“Our job, no matter who we play, no matter what the team sheet looks like, is to have an air of being ridiculously hard to play against,” coach Laura Harvey said. “I don’t think that being invincible creates that. Just doing the basic things really well will give you an opportunity to win the games.”
Before the game began, the two teams united at midfield joined hands, formed a circle and shared a moment of silence, honoring the victims of the tragedy in Orlando over the weekend.
Once the game got underway, Seattle maintained possession for much of the match and pressured Houston goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who took the loss despite seven saves. Seattle outshot Houston 19-8, and midfielder Havana Solaun scored the game-winning goal in the 66th minute. Solid ball movement fueled Seattle’s offense; Jessica Fishlock, Kim Little and Beverly Yanez all got touches before the ball found Solaun, who connected from just outside the semicircle into the bottom left corner of the net.
“I talked to Bev [Yanez] about it after the game, and she said she looked up and I was just so open,” said Solaun after her first professional goal. “I think just about everyone on the field yelled for me to shoot.”
That goal added urgency for the Dash, who picked up their defensive presence in the ensuing minutes and nearly used that to create some offense and knot the score.
In the 72nd minute, midfielder Morgan Brian intercepted a pass by Fishlock and ran up the field before making an attempt from more than 20 yards out. The ball was on target, but Hope dove to her right to quell the chance from her USWNT teammate, despite the afternoon sun shining in her eyes.
Hope with a save on Morgan Brian’s shot from distance. pic.twitter.com/De159dhrqH
— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) June 13, 2016
Hope kept Houston at bay for the entirety of the match, helping Seattle clinch their first win in five matches. Despite the club’s early-season inconsistency, Harvey is confident the Reign can get going at the right time while they pursue their first title.
“If this is what it takes to win the championship, I’ll take it. I’ll take the bad time now. No question,” Harvey said. “We need to make sure, with the progression that we make, that we play our best when it matters.”
The Reign improved to 3-3-2 and now sit four points out of first place in the NWSL standings.
Hope and the Reign return to the pitch next week to face Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J.
The clubs last met in April, when Sky Blue came away with a 2-1 win. Nearly two months after the season-opener, Sky Blue sits with a 2-3-3 record, most recently settling for a 1-1 draw with FC Kansas City on Saturday. Sarah Killion scored Sky Blue’s lone goal in that contest on a penalty kick.
Seattle is 3-3-3 all-time versus Sky Blue.
The 10th match all-time between the two teams is set to begin at 3 p.m. PT on Sunday, June 19.
- Havana Solaun’s goal lifts Reign, but work remains (Seattle Times, June 12, 2016)
- Seattle Reign earns third win of the season against Houston Dash (Vavel, June 12, 2016)
- Reign FC shut out Dash in 1-0 win (NWSL, June 12, 2016)