The starting lineup that the Seattle Sounders Women sent out onto the wet Starfire pitch this evening was the one that we all dreamed about when the preseason flurry of world class signings came to an end. In goal, Hope Solo. At forward, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux. In the midfield Keelin Winter, Megan Rapinoe, and Veronica Perez. In defense Stephanie Cox.
It was a star-studded lineup that was the primary reason that the 4,500 seat Starfire Stadium was packed to the rafters. But there was another reason, evidenced by the big swaths of purple cutting through the crowd. There was a large Husky contingent here and they were just as eager to see their team do well against those national team players.
Maybe it was that extra bit of fan support, or maybe they were just a better team, but the UW gave the Sounders more of a game than either Seattle U or SPU did in the first two despite Seattle having their best roster of the preseason on paper. That's not to say that the Huskies were dominating the play. Like their predecessors they were content to play 10 deep on defense and occasionally lob a hopeful ball to their lone striker. But they played with a harder edge (resulting in quite a few fouls) and didn't give Seattle many chances either. The best chance of the half was in its final seconds when Leroux uncorked a shot that forced a full stretch diving save from the Husky keeper.
In the second half the game opened up after the 53rd minute, when Rapinoe sent in a corner and it bounced around the box before Morgan booted it home. In previous games, the first Sounder goal opened floodgates, but this time it was the Huskies who answered next, when a long pass over the top from Sounder and Husky player Lindsay Elston fell into space and Washington's target striker outran Kate Deines to the ball and skipped it past a diving Solo into the far post. It was an impressive attack, worthy of being the only goal scored on the Sounders in preseason. And so it was, as the scoring was finished off by a drive from Perez (who's arguably the team MVP of the preseason) off a Morgan assist and a Lyndsey Patterson tap-in off of a Rapinoe assist.
The team takes a break now after finishing up what could only be described as a wildly successful preseason with 3 consecutive Starfire sellouts. They open the regular season in Vancouver on May 27th — the first game they'll be without their contingent of national team stars — before returning to Starfire on the 31st.