By TOM SLATER
Sky Blue’s opening-day winning streak in the National Women’s Soccer League ended at four in a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Reign, the league’s defending champion and Supporters Shield winners, on Saturday night.
Sky Blue would have extended that streak to five, had it not been for Seattle goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, who faced 11 shots and made 8 saves.
The Reign goalkeeper, the heir apparent to former United States and Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo, stood tall in goal, denying Sky Blue’s balanced attack. Some saves were routine, others were magnificent.
The teams exchanged second-half penalty kicks to account for all the scoring. The Reign’s Megan Rapinoe slotted one home after being fouled in the 56th minute. Sarah Killion got Sky Blue even six minutes later after Kelley O’Hara was taken down during a Sam Kerr corner kick.
Kopmeyer got a hand on the shot, but could not keep it from hitting the back of the net.
“We are definitely satisfied with the way we started the season,” Sky Blue Coach Christy Holly said. “The quality of play was very pleasing, and it is something that really excites us moving forward. At the same time, we know that today was just the first step in what will be a season-long journey for this group of extremely talented and dedicated players.”
Despite Holly’s comment, Sky Blue probably deserved better — it had 53.4 percent of possession in the game, the defense was tight.
Sky Blue should have scored in the first half. Kerr, O’Hara, Leah Galton and Racquel Rodriguez all had sterling chances to score, only to be denied by Kopmeyer.
Sky Blue attacked in numbers with outside backs Erica Skroski and the rookie Kayla Mills making runs up the flanks resulting in nine shots.
Kopmeyer was tested during a 20-minute stretch in the opening half. Galton, who used her speed and aggressiveness to keep the Reign on their heels most of the game, had the first chance early in the game when the England international hammered a shot that forced Kopmeyer to make an athletic save.
Seattle settled in for the second half and tested Sky Blue’s back line, but Mills, Mandy Freeman, Christie Pearce and Skroski stayed organized and made it difficult for the Reign to test rookie goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. The defense, with Pearce leading the way, was never stretched and stayed compact.
Sky Blue visits Boston next Sunday at 6 p.m.