SEATTLE -- Following a two-week break from action, the Huskies returned to the field on Thursday evening to play the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
The Reign opened the scoring in the 12th minute as Washington alum, Kate Deines, headed home a cross from Lauren Barnes. The next thirty minutes of action saw the Reign carry play, but unable to break down the Husky defense led by Stine Shoening and Allyson Brahs.
Playing in a 4-3-3, the Huskies were able to find some success on the counter with the speed of Jaclyn Softli causing the Reign backline problems. In the 43rd minute, Megan Kufeld made a great save to tip over a Danielle Foxhoven header from six yards out. Unfortunately for the Huskies, on the ensuing corner kick, Foxhoven scored from two yards out to give the Reign a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
“My only real disappointment in the game tonight is that I felt we gave up somewhat atypical soft goals and didn’t come out with the energy that we needed to compete against a team of this caliber,” said head coach Lesle Gallimore. “Playing this game three days after our two-week layoff for finals and spring break isn’t ideal, but we took the game in a heartbeat because it’s a great opportunity for us to learn and grow as a team. We had a large portion of today’s starting lineup that did not start in the fall, and to get this kind of game under their belts can only be positive for us moving forward.”
In the second half, the Huskies came out energized with Becca Schoales and Softli both stretching the field while asking questions of the Reign defenders. In the midfield, Amanda Perez and Kate Bennett were becoming more involved, which led to quite a few attacking restarts for the Dawgs. With the game beginning to open up more, Nahomi Kawasumi, countered for the Reign and set up Kendall Fletcher to score with a blast from the top of the box.
“I thought we came out battling and with much better attacking energy in the second half and created some opportunities that could have led to goals,” said Gallimore. “Specifically, I thought we had several restarts, corners and free kicks, that we didn’t look as sharp on and we’ll address that; restarts are a big part of the game and an area we need to improve upon.”
The Reign would add to their lead in the 73’ with Bev Goebel scoring from close range. Lyndsey Patterson finished out the scoring in the 87’ after great combination play from Kawasumi and Goebel.
“We had more of the ball in the second half than in the first and competed harder but were punished primarily due to our own unforced giveaways in dangerous parts of the field, said Gallimore. “The Reign had a couple quality finishes and broke us down a few times, but I also thought that with their pace and skill we actually thwarted a good number of their attacks and that Megan Kufeld came up with several quality saves. Again, we needed to do more with the chances we did create and we’ll continue to address that.”
“Having covered the Reign as a color commentator in their inaugural season in 2013, I can already see, even with their U.S., Scottish, and Welsh players missing, that they are much, much improved,” said Gallimore. “Bev Goebel and Nahomi Kawasumi in particular are very, very talented players that add another level to that squad. You throw in Kim Little and the likes of Sydney LeRoux and they will be an attacking force to be reckoned with.”
Following the loss to the Reign, the Huskies move to 1-1 this spring and will return to action at the University of Portland on Sunday, April 13, at 1:00pm.
“We’re grateful to have a professional team in our city, and thankful to have the opportunity to play them,” said Gallimore. “It’s great for our young team to be on the pitch battling with that kind of quality. We’ll take a lot of positives from this match and now get back to our training rhythm and prepare for our final three matches of the spring season. I’m confident that we’re better for this experience.”