On April 15 at 7 pm local time, we witnessed the start of the Haley Kopmeyer era.
And oh man what a start it was.
But before we can talk about the new era we need to go back to the start of the Reign’s origin in the NWSL. And if there is one thing the Seattle Reign are known for, other than midfielders with bleach blonde hair, it’s goalkeeping.
For the first four years of the NWSL’s history, it was Hope Solo as the team’s first option, when she wasn’t away on national team duty. But Haley Kopmeyer has been there through it all.
In 2013 she was drafted in the 4th round of the NWSL’s first draft. She was the penultimate pick for a team that already had Solo and who would pick up Michelle Betos soon after in the 2013 NWSL Supplemental Draft. The Michigan Wolverine was cut due to roster restrictions after playing only one game in 2013.
2014 saw Kopmeyer back, Betos gone and Solo still as the number one. This would be the set up for the next two years. Solo in as the top choice, Kopmeyer stepping up when called upon. After four years with the team she had played less than two dozen games. But with Solo likely permuted out of the picture, that is all set to change.
Good luck to my @ReignFC family in their home opener tonight and especially to @hkopmeyer!!! ⚽️ #LetItReign pic.twitter.com/I7p3te5RcW— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) April 15, 2017
Haley Kopmeyer started her reign as Seattle’s top keeper with 8 saves in her first match. The one goal she allowed was a PK, taken by Sky Blue’s Sarah Killion, and she nearly saved that. The ball managed to get just past the glove.
As a fan of goalkeepers the match featured some truly outstanding saves. Much of Kopmeyer’s work was against Sam Kerr, one of the best forwards in the world and an Australian international, who may have had a brace against less skilled goalkeepers. Sky Blue’s attack was relentless, and Kopmeyer had to pull off some pretty amazing saves to help her team stay in the game.
Kop stop. pic.twitter.com/kOJTTFtC5z— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) April 16, 2017
Kopmeyer has put in the work to build herself into one of the best goalkeepers in the league with the help of the Reign coaching staff. As she told Jacob Cristobal for his Reign Original’s piece, “We are so, so, so lucky to have them as a coaching staff. They are part of the reason that Seattle is a team that players from other clubs, other teams, want to play for. They want to play for that staff. It’s them. It’s the culture they’ve created for this team.”
I don’t know where Seattle will end up their year. There are holes in the team left by players leaving and retiring. The midfield is no longer able to lock down games the way it could in it’s prime. But the one thing I am sure of is Haley Kopmeyer is ready for primetime.