Fresh off grinding out a 1-1 draw against FC Kansas City where they were down to 10, the Seattle Reign FC were back at it on Wednesday night, hosting the Chicago Red Stars.
The Red Stars came into Memorial Stadium with a 2-1 victory over Sky Blue FC on Sunday and looked to have Seattle's number again after their previous meeting earlier this month saw the Red Stars victorious over the Reign in Chicago.
The visitors would strike first in the 41st minute when Alyssa Mautz connected on a cross from Julie Ertz in the box. In talking about the goal, Ertz said post-match that she was aiming for the far post as it was something she had trained with Mautz on. The situation presented itself after the Reign defense had thwarted the first attack, but in resetting for the second chance, they weren't able to reset in time.
D'oh! Chicago Red Stars strike first and get the goal. Alyssa Mautz connects on a cross from Julie Ertz and there you go. pic.twitter.com/Rmo8Qrf829— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) June 29, 2017
While Chicago opened the scoring and one would think carried the momentum into halftime, the Reign knew they weren't out of it and certainly drawing from their resilience in getting the draw against Kansas City this past Saturday, they knew they could grind it out and still get the result.
Things would go into Seattle's favor in the second half when a handball in the box was called on Chicago’s Taylor Comeau in the 58th minute. Megan Rapinoe converted the penalty to draw the game level at 1-1.
And just like that, we are all level at Memorial Stadium. pic.twitter.com/euCNb8lDHt— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) June 29, 2017
Rapinoe would again be called upon to take the penalty when she induced a foul from Casey Short in the 84th minute. Despite protests from Short and Ertz on the field, and head coach Rory Dames echoing their protests post-match, Rapinoe converted on the second penalty that would be the match winner.
Post-match, Rapinoe said her approach to the penalties wasn't based on studying Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher's tendencies and all about, "If you put it right, hit it right, they should never be able to save it." With specifics to her second penalty kick, she conceded that fatigue had set in and she wasn't trying to do anything special and just blasted the ball up and through the middle.
So nice, Pinoe does it twice. pic.twitter.com/Xi1n2BWSVA— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) June 29, 2017
Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey called the win ugly but was content with it as she viewed getting the 3 points tonight as vital. A few weeks ago, Harvey talked about how the team needed to remember how to win when the score was only 1-0 and in most of those cases, grind it out to hold on for the win. With the league playing three matches in seven days, this was always going to be an important part of the season, in which the depth of teams will be tested but also their resiliency on short rest.
Being able to get a result against FC Kansas City despite having only ten on the field and to quickly turn it around to host a quality team in Chicago and get the win, the Reign couldn't ask for a better boost of momentum going into their next match. As if they weren't already going to be amped up for their next opponent.
"It feels like the Seattle Reign. When we were this dominant force in 2014 or 15, I think the thing that everyone would talk about was we would always come back. And we lost that a little bit, we lost our identity. In some ways it was like the moment when teams score on us, we didn't believe we could get back. And we believe now."
The win puts the Reign in 4th place (woo, playoff spot!), and all eyes now are on Saturday. It's a big one as they host their Cascadia rivals, Portland Thorns FC. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM.