Fishlock strikes late to preserve Reign FC’s unbeaten run at home

That was a close one.

In its regular season home finale, Reign FC had to come up with a late goal and fast. After Sky Blue FC took the lead in the 6th minute courtesy of a nicely taken free kick by Nadia Nadim, Seattle spent the majority of the match searching for the equalzer.

As the clock ticked down, the tenacity of head coach Laura Harvey’s side paid divends in the 90th minute. Midfielder Kim Little deliverd a perfect cross into the box that Jess Fishlock powered home with her head.

And just like that, Reign FC stayed unbeaten at home for the second consecutive season — 22 regular season matches. Seattle finished the 2015 regular season with a 8–0–2 home record.

Fishlock’s tally was good for her seventh of the season while Little picked up her seventh league-leading assist.

“Sky Blue were the better team tonight. They came here to win,” said head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “I told the players at the half that they had a choice… I think the players showed a lot of character and that’s what this part of the season will take. The ability and the character. We showed that 100%.”

Sky Blue FC emerged the dominant side in the first half and as such, grabbed the lead in the 6th minute. After earning a free kick just outside the 18-yard box, Danish international Nadia Nadim placed a well taken kick past goalkeeper Hope Solo and into the left-hand side of the net.

While the visitors did well to bottle up Reign FC’s attack, the Seattle backline did well to stifle any further danger from Sky Blue FC.

In the second half, Reign FC pressed higher in search of an equalizer and totaled five shots on goal.

In the 58th minute, Little earned a free kick just outside the 18. Her low ball found Fishlock whose redirect was pushed wide of goal.

The next real chance for the home side came in the 65th minute as forward Katrine Veje moved down the left flank before sending in a low, driven cross. Mathias made a sliding effort but fell inches short of contact.

In the 70th minute, the home side again almost found an equalizer. Little played a through ball into the box for Fishlock who tried to chip Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron. Cameron got just enough on it to deflect the attempt away from goal.

In the 90th minute, Reign FC’s tenacity paid off. Little gathered a ball at the top of the 18-yard box and quickly sent a cross towards the center of goal to find Fishlock in stride who powered her header past Cameron to bring the final score to 1–1.

Despite giving up the early goal, Reign FC outshot Sky Blue FC 13-to-2, six of which were on target compared to the visitors one.

On the defensive end, Solo wasn’t forced to make any saves on the night while Cameron made five saves, four of which came in the second half.

At the end of the night, Reign FC was presented with the 2015 NWSL Shield.

Saturday’s game was the third and final match up of the regular season between Seattle and Sky Blue. During the first meeting at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. on May 9, the two sides played to a 1–1 draw. In the second meeting, Reign FC blanked Sky Blue at home on the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium with a 3–0 victory on June 6.

Reign FC will now head on the road to face the Washington Spirit in its regular season finale on September 5 at Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, M.D.. The two sides squared off twice earlier in the season with Reign FC emerging victorious in a 3–1 win on May 2 while the Spirit evened the score on July 18 with a 3–0 win at the SoccerPlex.

Reign FC has clinched a home semi-final match that will take place on Sunday, September 13 at 6:30 p.m. PT. Tickets to that match are available on Reign FC’s website at www.reignfc.com/semifinal.

Photos by JaneG. Photography and Catie Bergman Photography