ROCHESTER – The Western New York Flash were unable to best U.S. Women’s National Team goaltender Hope Solo and the Seattle Reign Wednesday night at Sahlen’s Stadium as Solo made her return to the pitch.
Solo returned from a two-game hiatus after she was arrested on domestic violence charges on June 21. She made three saves as Seattle (12-0-3) remained undefeated on the season with a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory. She did not make herself available to the media after the game.
Her coach, Laura Harvey, said she made the decision to start Solo on Wednesday after benching her against Sky Blue FC Saturday because she believed her off-the-field issues wouldn’t be a distraction. She was pleased with the performance Solo turned out.
“I thought Hope did well,” Harvey said. “The decision to start her was because she was always only going to not play one game. … Hope’s our No. 1 keeper. She’s that for a reason.
“She’s been with us in training. She’s going through a tough time. This is where she belongs. There was no doubt from the moment she got back on the field in her first training session that she was ready. She could have easily played in the Sky Blue game but we decided not to for the good of the team.”
As painstakingly and excruciatingly close as they come, it seems the Flash are unable to close out Seattle. For the third time this season and the second time in 10 days, they blew a 1-0 lead to lose or draw against the Reign.
The Flash (6-8-2) scored first in the May 25 matchup, only to draw, 2-2. On June 22, the Flash held a 1-0 lead until the final seven minutes, where the Reign scored twice to earn the win.
“They’re a good team for 90-plus minutes,” Flash midfielder McCall Zerboni said. “Are we doing that every game? Probably not. That’s why we’re getting beaten at those moments.”
Wednesday, the Flash opened the scoring at the 33rd minute with a header from midfielder Vicky Losada that barely bounced in before hitting the crossbar and bouncing out.
Seattle countered in the second half as forward Beverly Goebel headed in a pass from NWSL leading scorer Kim Little at the 62nd minute.
Seattle took the lead for good when midfielder Jessica Fishlock tapped in a perfect pass from forward Megan Rapinoe, who won a battle for the ball on the left side of the net, at the 84th minute.
“I saw Jess and, of course, when you get down to that angle, passing in front of the goal is pretty dangerous,” Rapinoe said. “But Jess and I have a pretty good connection on the field so I just put it in a spot for her because I saw her streaking up the middle.”
The Flash had a chance to take sole possession of third place in the NWSL with a win. Instead, they remained in a fourth-place tie with the Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns FC, both of whom have two games in hand.
The Flash will hit the pitch again Saturday when they head to the Lone Star state to take on the Houston Dash (4-9-1) Saturday at 9 p.m.