From the first minutes it was clear that there were only two ways tonight's semifinal match between the Reign and Spirit could go. Either Seattle would waste a raft of chances and Washington would get a goal or two on the break from Crystal Dunn and escape with a win against the run of play, or Seattle's battering pressure would eventually overwhelm keeper Ashlyn Harris and the Reign would run away with the game.
The early Seattle pressure was relentless, and though Harris only made four official saves in the first half, that understates how much pressure she was under and how many times she had to step out to claim dangerous balls. Still, the Reign couldn't find the final lethal touch.
At the other end, Washington's chances were few and far between. Their only threatening move in the first half was a Dunn shross from distance that Hope Solo had to tip over her bar to concede a corner.
As the game wore on longer and longer the tension between the two possible outcomes built, until in the 69th minute Bev Yanez — who's been injured for nearly a month — was subbed on for Katrine Veje and within seconds was in position to poke a Megan Rapinoe cross past Harris for the opening goal.
That opened the floodgates and less than five minutes later, Kim Little found an open Rapinoe on the break and the US international dribbled straight at Harris and finished around her calmly.
Even with the lead, Seattle was dominant in possession and didn't allow the Spirit any glimpse of a chance for a comeback. The game was put to bed in the 89th minute when another sub — Mariah Bullock — beat Harris with a roofed shot during a scramble in the box and the team coasted to the win.
So for the second season in a row, Seattle has beaten the Spirit at home to advance to a final where they'll face FC Kansas City. After the match tonight, coach Laura Harvey said losing last year's final was the worst feeling she's ever had after a game and that she has no intention of letting that happen again. Yanez was similarly focused. Despite having to take two weeks off for international obligations, the team is in top form and ready to avenge last season's final.