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Fishlock Goal at the Death Preserves Memorial Streak

Eighty nine minutes of frustration and two seconds of perfection added up to a mixed, but ultimately successful night in the pouring rain in Seattle.

Mike Russell

In a game in which neither team had anything to lose, Sky Blue came in and was the much better team in the first half then used a heavy dose of second half luck to ride a 1-0 lead until the waning minutes of the match. But a last gasp Jess Fishlock goal earned the draw for Seattle and preserved the Reign's now two year long undefeated record at Memorial Stadium.

It was a night for honors and pageantry, as both the NWSL Shield and the World Cup trophy were in attendance, as were USWNT coach Jill Ellis and NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush. But there wasn't much pageantry in the Reign's first half display. Sky Blue used heavy ball pressure and relentless overlapping attacks on the flank to put Seattle on their heels the entire half. In the 6th minute, a Fishlock foul under that pressure gave Sky Blue a free kick 25 yards out. Nadia Nadim's laser shot beat Hope Solo at the far post and the Jersey team had an early lead. But rather than sitting back they continued to pile on pressure and twice Seattle had to clear the ball off the line to prevent another goal, and they created precious few chances themselves.

The second half was another story, but for a long time it seemed like it wouldn't change the ending. Seattle regained possession and their swagger and Sky Blue pulled back into a shell. The chances started flowing, but still the Reign couldn't score. A Fishlock tap-in forced a wonder save from goalkeeper Brittany Cameron. Two Kim Little shots went just high. Three crosses in the box eluded a toe that would have scored the equalizer by no more than a foot. Twice Little was fouled in the box for what on another day could have been penalty kick calls. At some point it seemed the soccer gods had just decreed that the streak had to end and Seattle wouldn't be allowed to score tonight.

But Little and Fishlock told the soccer gods to stuff it in the 90th minute, when the Scot sent in a high cross and the Welshwoman willed a header past Cameron for the equalizer.

Credit to Sky Blue that they didn't sit on the draw, but went to get the lead again in the final minutes, leaving their backline exposed for what should have been a Danielle Foxhoven nail in the coffin, but her shot was just wide. Regardless, the point was preserved.

After the match the elated team was officially presented with the 2015 Shield in the driving rain by commissioner Plush, and now they look to their regular season finale in Washington next weekend before coming back to host a playoff semifinal against an as-yet-to-be-determined opponent.

The assist puts Little two clear at the top of the league leaderboard, giving her an outside shot of challenging Crystal Dunn for the MVP award that's seemed to have been earmarked for the Spirit player all season. But the only award the team is focused on now is the championship trophy that eluded them last season and that will be contested in the hostile territory of Providence Park on October 1st.

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