Aussies Abroad: Catley leads Seattle Reign to top NWSL ladder

Steph Catley helped Seattle Reign climb to the top of the National Women’s Soccer League by beating title rivals Portland Thorns 1-0 on their own turf.

Catley came up against three of her Westfield Matildas teammates and she thwarted the efforts of Ellie Carpenter, Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso as Seattle clinched a clean sheet in front of 19,116 fans at Providence Park.

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Starting Round 11 on the left of Seattle's defence, Catley had to fend off the advances of Thorns right wing-back and international teammate Carpenter throughout the first half.

When the teenager did finally find Westfield Matildas striker Foord, Seattle goalkeeper Casey Murphy was in inspired form.

Raso came on to replace her fellow Westfield Matilda Foord in the 50th minute as Thorns head coach Mark Parsons looked to make the breakthrough, but the game tilted towards the away side.

A 55th-minute goal from Spain international Celia Jimenez Delgado was enough to capture all three points for Reign, taking them a point clear of North Carolina Courage and Portland on the NWSL Ladder.

Lydia Williams was an unused substitute for Seattle, while Elise Kellond-Knight did not feature.

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Four-goal Hamilton spoils Polkinghorne's Houston return

Defending premiers and champions North Carolina kept up their pursuit at the top of the NWSL table with a 5-2 victory against Houston Dash.

It was a baptism of fire for Houston’s returning Westfleld Matildas centre-back Clare Polkinghorne as Dash went two down in the first twenty minutes to a pair of Kristen Hamilton strikes. 

Kristie Mewis got a goal back for Houston but Lynn Williams extended North Carolina’s lead before Aussie Kyah Simon hauled it back to 3-2 at half-time with an excellent first-touch and finish.

Courage's American forward Hamilton struck her hat-trick goal on 54 minutes and the 27-year-old went one better, putting the result beyond doubt at 5-2 on 71 minutes with her fourth of the game to tie the NWSL single-game scoring record.

Hamilton had only scored six times in 75 NWSL games up to the start of June, and has now netted seven goals in three games since. Houston are now seven matches without a win in seventh place.

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