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Kim Little's Houston Hat Trick Puts Reign 8 Points Clear

Seattle takes a commanding lead in the NWSL Shield race thanks to its Scottish superstar

Trask Smith

Call her Kim Lethal, call her the Aberdeen Machine, call her Seattle's unstoppable weapon. A game that started out as a farce turned into a showcase for the defending NWSL MVP, as she raised her game with each successive goal until the climactic third, which you could watch a thousand times without tiring.

Seattle's match against the Dash was delayed for an hour by a rainstorm that left the field in a terrible state. Half of it drained well and the other half was covered in puddles that repeatedly brought the ball to a dead stop halfway through a pass. That absurdity both created and ended chances, but left little happening in the ground game. The only good chance of the opening third came when Little lofted a high cross to Bev Yanez, who was wide open at the far post but managed to head the shot high.

Yanez' game got much worse a few minutes later when a non-contact injury on the soggy turf forced her out of the match. Based on her reaction, it could be a bad one but we'll have to wait to find out the prospects for the team's leading scorer.

The soggy standoff was finally broken in the 41st minute when Lauren Barnes decided to skip the crap turf and launch a high ball over the top for Little to run onto. And the Scot took it to goal like a freight train before slotting the ball past Erin McLeod for the lead.

In the second half the team seemed better prepared to deal with the conditions and was all over the Dash early after the restart. But the pressure wouldn't pay off until the 72nd, when Little upped the degree of difficulty when she found open space outside the Dash box and took a hard, low shot from 20 yards.

That nearly ended the Dash' hopes to come out of the game with a result (and stay in the playoff hunt), but in the 90th the real dagger came when Little collected the ball in the box, wiped out two defenders with a perfect touch, and dribbled through and across the Houston defense to finish past McLeod for the third time. It's a goal that deserves to be bronzed and displayed in a trophy case.

With the win Seattle goes 8 points clear of second place Washington. A win in Seattle's next match — a home date with last place Boston on Wednesday — clinches the Shield for the second consecutive season. Meanwhile, the Dash are now on the ropes, and the team of World Cup hero Carli Lloyd will see their playoff hopes end with even one point from Kansas City in the Blues' three remaining games.

The 3 goals moves Little into a tie for second in the Golden Boot race behind Crystal Dunn. She's already leading the league with 6 assists. And don't expect her to stop. Head coach Laura Harvey believes the team taking their foot off the gas contributed to their NWSL final loss last season, so the foot will be firmly on the gas in the 2015 run out.

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