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Seattle Reign FC defeat UW 3-1 in first preseason match

The new Reign FC made its public debut on a cold and windy night.

Seattle Reign vs Washington Spirit: Photos

Seattle Reign FC played their first official preseason game of the year on Thursday evening at Husky Soccer Stadium, facing off against the University of Washington Huskies in their annual charity match. Reign FC won the match 3-1, improving their all-time record against the Huskies to 5-0-0.

With eight probable regular-season starters for Reign FC still away on international duty, the team’s starting lineup featured a number of back-ups and utility players getting an opportunity to show their talents for new head coach Vlatko Andonvoski. The team announced their lineup as a 4-4-2, but in reality the formation and playing style was something quite familiar to Reign fans, with the outside backs pressing forward at every opportunity and the midfield trio of Bev Yanez, Morgan Andrews and trialist (and former UW Husky) Shannon Simon interchanging frequently. Simon was the only trialist among the starters for a Reign FC lineup which featured a mix of new faces and old.

The weather proved to be a major factor in the match, with a strong cross-wind coming off Union Bay and whipping across the field for much of the game. Combined with a saturated field from rains earlier in the day, play took some time to settle down as players gradually adjusted their passing and crosses to compensate for the harsh conditions.

Reign FC scored their first goal thanks to Kiersten Dallstream’s high press in the 21st minute. She pressured the Husky defense into a turnover near the top of the UW box and quickly slotted the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper for her first goal of the preseason. Seattle continued to pressure the Huskies through the rest of the first half and dominated possession, but were unable to capitalize a second time before the halftime whistle.

There were no changes for Reign FC to start the second half, but UW came out strong and nearly scored in the opening moments after Reign FC goalkeeper Michelle Betos bobbled a knuckling ball that skipped off the wet grass, but fortunately the follow-up shot struck another Husky in front of goal and bounced clear.

After that the Reign reclaimed momentum for most of the half. Megan Oyster came inches from heading home a Lauren Barnes corner kick, and just minutes later Barnes again found herself with the ball near the attacking corner during a counterattack, and lofted a perfectly weighted cross into the box which Morgan Andrews headed firmly home for the second goal of the night in the 64th minute.

Seattle had a momentary lapse of attention on the ensuing kickoff, and the Huskies took the ball downfield and scored almost immediately as the Reign defense scrambled to get back into position. At that point Andonovski had seen enough of his starters, and began sending in trialists for the final 25 minutes of the game. Only Yanez, Andrews, Oyster and Nahomi Kawasumi played the full match for Seattle.

In the 69th minute, trialist Stephanie Verdoia picked up the ball near midfield and had a nice series of give-and-go passes with several teammates before scoring the final goal of the match from the top of the box. Verdoia, who played at Seattle University, had several additional nice runs off the shoulder of the last defender, but couldn’t make anything of her other opportunities.

The game got a bit sloppy toward the end as more trialists entered the game and the temperature plummeted, but Reign FC easily saw out the final minutes of the game to secure a 3-1 victory in front of several hundred hardy fans of both teams.

Next up for the club is a final preseason match against UCLA, which will be played in Norco, California. That game takes place March 13 at 8 PM and will be the final opportunity for trialists to make a case for inclusion on the Reign FC roster ahead of the NWSL home opener on March 24.

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