Reign opens league play with a satisfying tie
Christine Nairn scores early off assist from Liz Bogus, but then offense sputters
Special to The Seattle Times
LISLE, Ill. — Christine Nairn made history by scoring Seattle Reign FC's first goal, but she didn't want to take credit for it.
"Next thing I know, Liz clips a perfect ball on my head," Nairn said of teammate Liz Bogus, who got the assist. "I just kind of closed my eyes and hoped for the best. I had the easy job. If Liz didn't put a perfect ball on my head, I wouldn't have been in the position that I was in."
Nairn, who recently graduated from Penn State, scored in the 10th minute to give Reign FC the lead on the road at Benedictine University Sports Complex against the Chicago Red Stars.
But Chicago tied it in the first half and the two teams settled for a 1-1 draw in the inaugural weekend of the National Women's Soccer League.
"With this being our first road game, we should be proud," Nairn said. "We came out of the gates fired up and ready to play. Everyone was playing well and connecting passes. It's the first game of a long season and we like what we saw."
Chicago's Lori Chalupny tied the contest in the 25th minute with an assist from Ella Masar.
Late in the first half, Chalupny aimed a corner kick into the Reign FC goal box, but goalkeeper Michelle Betos grabbed the ball in midair in heavy traffic.
Other than its goal, Seattle's offense was lackluster.
Reign FC had just one shot on goal to Chicago's nine. The Red Stars also topped Reign FC 14-3 in total shots.
Seattle's offense in the second half amounted to a couple of broken plays and a shot by midfielder Jessica Fishlock from 25 yards in front of the goal that went harmlessly over the net.
"I thought the first 20 minutes we played really well," Reign FC coach Laura Harvey said. "I thought maybe we took our foot off the pedal a little bit, which allowed Chicago back into the game."
Betos had an outstanding game. She grabbed balls out of the air on numerous Chicago corner kicks, made a diving save to her left in the 64th minute and another diving stop to her right with her hand in the 68th minute.
"Michelle pulled off some great saves when we needed it," Harvey said.
Seattle spent four weeks training in Japan during the preseason.
"We got together and went right out to Japan and played against three professional clubs out there," said Bogus.
The experience helped the team early in the game Sunday, and in the second half when Reign FC needed to come up big defensively.
"Today was about coming out as a team, as a new club and proving what we're about," said Harvey, who previously won three league titles with Arsenal Ladies, England's top women's club team. "We proved tonight that we've got a lot of potential and I think longterm that this franchise can be something pretty exciting and I want to be involved in that."
The Reign plays an exhibition game Monday in Indianapolis against the Haiti National Team. Its next league game is Sunday at Portland at 2 p.m. After a road game at FC Kansas City, the Reign will have its home opener May 4 against FC Kansas City.