After nearly two weeks away from the soccer field, Hope Solo returned for Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday night and made several key saves in a 2-1 win over the WNY Flash at Sahlen's Stadium.
Solo was arrested on June 21 for allegedly assaulting her sister and nephew at her sister's home in Kirkland, WA. The US Women's National Team goalie pleaded not guilty and is due back in court in August.
For the third time in three games against the Reign this year, the Flash scored the first goal of the game. The Flash made it four games in a row with goals on set pieces, scoring again on a booming Brittany Taylor free kick. Thirty-three minutes in, Taylor sent a ball into the Reign penalty area that, though Keelin Winters was the first to touch the ball, made its way to the foot of Vicky Losada. Vicky wasted no time, striking the ball midair with a left footed volley that hammered the bottom of the crossbar and bounced just beyond the goal line.
Though the Flash took the 1-0 lead into the half, the Reign equalized in the 62nd minute when former Western New York forward Beverly Goebel headed home a cross from Kim Little. Little took the ball down the right side and sent a line drive cross to Goebel on the far post. Goebel was able to rise above her defender and redirect it into the right side of the net, past the shifting Williams.
It was then Megan Rapinoe, making her first appearance since April 13, who setup the Reign’s game-winning goal when she found Jessica Fishlock on a low cross in the 84th minute. Rapinoe cut to the left byline and hit a hard ball in, with Fishlock running onto the service and beating Williams to make it a 2-1 final.
Angela Salem tried to find forward Samantha Kerr with a chip over the Reign backline in the 13th minute. The Australian trapped the ball in front of Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo, but she was deemed offside.
Seattle responded with a long ball to Goebel from Stephanie Cox, but she fired the ball high over Williams who was off her line.
Kerr found herself alone with Solo 17 minutes in after a perfectly threaded ball from Vicky. Losada sent the ball through the two Reign center backs but Solo came out to take away Kerr’s angle and deny the Flash its first goal.
Flash goalkeeper Williams came up with back-to-back saves in the 24th minute, denying Nahomi Kawasumi from close range before diving to collect Kim Little’s rebound shot. The play was developed after Little intercepted McCall Zerboni’s back pass, quickly passing to Fishlock who laid it out to Naho. Naho struck from inside the penalty area but Williams blocked it away with her feet. The forward got the rebound and sent it out to Little, but the Australian keeper made a sprawling save to keep the game scoreless.
Nearly 10 minutes into the second half, Williams again came up with a highlight-worthy save when she made a full extension, diving save to her left, denying Goebel on a header attempt.
Williams finished the game with four saves while Solo made three for the Reign.
Second half substitute Jasmyne Spencer came inches from lifting the Flash to a 2-1 lead in the 74th minute after Taylor sent a one-timed outlet to the speedy forward. Spencer was able to poke the ball past Solo who slid to the ground a got a shot off at the open net, but defender Kendall Fletcher appeared deflect ball just enough to force the ball off the left goal post, giving the Seattle defense enough time to clear the ball off the line.
Just one minute later, Sonia Bermudez tested Solo in the 75th minute with a centered free kick from 25 yards out, but the goalkeeper stretched out to deflect the ball from the upper 90.
With their four-game homestand now at a close, the Flash will head on the road for one game. The Flash will travel to Houston on Saturday, looking to pick up its first win over the Dash this season. The game will kickoff at 9 p.m. ET at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Flash falls to 6-8-2 (20 points) with the loss, while Seattle remains undefeated and moves to 12-0-3 (39 points) on the year.
Western New York returns home on July 12 to welcome the Washington Spirit.