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Reign Grind Out 2-0 Preseason Win Over UW

With their MVP away, Seattle worked a little harder to earn this win than last week's, but some substitutes made strong cases for first team minutes.

Jane Gershovich

Last week Seattle started slow but soon overpowered a young Portland Pilots team thanks to timid opposition and the incisive finishing of Kim Little. This week the Reign had neither, and had to push through UW pressure and overcome a number of wasted chances to earn a win.

The Huskies under head coach Lesle Gallimore (who moonlights as a Reign color commentator) came into Memorial Stadium confident and aggressive and their high pressure forced a number of turnovers, particularly from Seattle captain Keelin Winters, who had an uncharacteristically off night passing the ball. The Reign defense was fast and effective in snuffing out those chances before they became too dangerous and despite their pressure the UW only had one or two good chances all night.

But the disjointed build-up prevented the Reign from creating too many chances of their own, and when they did get the ball into the box they clearly missed Little, who is on international duty for Scotland (along with defender Rachel Corsie). With her, Jess Fishlock (with Wales), and Megan Rapinoe (with the US) out of the team, the team lacked a cutting edge.

The attack was made up of Kirsten Dallstream and rookie Havana Solaun on the wings and Bev Yanez in the middle (though she'd frequently trade off with Dani Foxhoven out of the midfield). Most of the good attacks came from balls over the top of a high UW defense, and that's how Seattle got their first goal, in the 12th minute. Kendall Fletcher chipped a ball over the top of the defense to put Foxhoven behind, and the attacker chipped the onrushing UW keeper to make it 1-0.

In the second half newly acquired midfielder Amber Brooks subbed on. While she primarily stayed conservative in a holding role and didn't venture forward much, it was a moment of skill from her that set up the second goal. She sent a long, well-timed throughball up the field to catch Merritt Mathias in stride on the wing. Mathias sent in a hard cross that Yanez settled and turned to poke under the keeper for the final goal of the match.

Solaun had a very strong first half before getting injured by a tackle in the 36th minute. She went down holding her ankle and had to be substituted. After halftime she came out on crutches, so the player who just signed her first pro contract this week may have to miss the start of the season.

Despite not figuring in the scoring, Dallstream had a particularly dominant game in her passing and work rate in chasing down loose balls. She was a tyrant on the left wing and cutting into the middle and her crossing was almost Naho-esque. She made a strong claim to be given a chance to hold onto the left wing starting spot when Rapinoe isn't available.

The Reign's next match is their season opener against Western New York (featuring Sydney Leroux) on the 12th. By then Seattle's internationals should all be back with the team and we'll be able to see the first team in action for the first time.

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