And so here we are, the final game of the 2017 NWSL season for Seattle Reign FC. What a tale of two halves it was — with Reign FC coming from two goals behind to earn a 3-2 win against the Washington Spirit.
Last year, when Seattle Reign FC traveled to the Maryland Soccerplex, there was drama before the ball was even kicked. It’d be crazy (or very much NWSL) for this year’s late September meeting between the Washington Spirit and Seattle Reign FC to have off-the-field drama. Thankfully, all the drama was contained on the field.
Following the loss against FC Kansas City last week, which eliminated the Reign from playoff contention, it was nice to see some changes to the starting eleven. The biggest change was goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel getting the start over Lydia Williams. Haley Kopmeyer did not travel with the team due to an illness.
Seattle started the game with their tempo, but just as it’s plagued the team all season long, they lacked that final bit of quality after a couple build-up passes. To Washington Spirit’s credit, they remained composed and looked for their chances on the counter.
Mallory Pugh got on the scoreboard first with a goal in the 27th minute. It came at the expense of Elli Reed, who got the start on her final game. Pugh hit the turbo and, well, the GIF speaks for itself.
Mallory Pugh hits the turbo button and blows past Elli Reed to open the scoring for the Spirit. pic.twitter.com/GRTVKswqpx— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) September 30, 2017
Five minutes later, Pugh would claim her second as defender and co-captain Lauren Barnes got her pocket picked and a sequence of Havana Solaun to Meggie Dougherty Howard to Havana Solaun to Mallory Pugh left the Reign defense in shambles. To say it was a first half to forget for Seattle would be a gross understatement.
Reign defense are in shambles now as Pugh taps in her second for Washington. pic.twitter.com/2sf8oT7inJ— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) September 30, 2017
Then came the second half.
Whatever the halftime talk was that head coach Laura Harvey gave to the players, it had an effect. So did switching their usual plan of building an attack from the back to playing directly at Washington with long balls. Right from the restart, Reign would pepper Washington’s backline. The Spirit adjusted well to it, but it would prove to wear them down and a goal would come in the 71st minute, courtesy of co-captain Jess Fishlock.
FISHLOCK GETS ONE BACK FOR SEATTLE! pic.twitter.com/RiHXs9ueAN— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) October 1, 2017
That was Seattle’s first, and 12 minutes later, substitute Larissa Crummer would claim the equalizer through the same means of Reign lobbing in the ball over the top.
LARISSA EQUALIZES IT ALL FOR SEATTLE. pic.twitter.com/kV81iceBDs— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) October 1, 2017
Nine minutes later, Seattle would find the ultimate reward on the evening, with Fishlock claiming her brace in the 90th minute that would go on to be the match-winner.
Yes, the improbable hope of returning the playoffs ended last week when they lost to FC Kansas City, but there’s still plenty to appreciate in the Reign closing the season with a win. It closes Elli Reed’s career on a high note.
We also got to see what goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel brings to the table. It’d be harsh to put the Mallory Pugh goals on Schiffel as everything else around her fell apart in spectacular fashion (and don’t forget, Mallory Pugh is very good). Outside of those, Schiffel stood her ground and made the saves she needed, especially one from a Tori Huster shot from distance in the second half.
Washington's Mallory Pugh with a shot, and Schiffel is there for the save. pic.twitter.com/Yoobl9VSXU— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) September 30, 2017
Tori Huster shoots from distance and WHAT A SAVE by Schiffel! pic.twitter.com/CzMC8x4Egy— Ride of theValkyries (@rovalks) October 1, 2017
Seattle Reign FC finish their 2017 season with 9 wins, 8 losses, and 7 draws. There are plenty of questions going into the offseason, which we’ll address over time. However, for tonight, the Reign got to finish the tough campaign on a good note, a co-captain reminded us why we love her, we got to see what more of the kids can do, and we got to say goodbye to a Reign FC Original.