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FC Kansas City beats Reign for NWSL championship, 2-1

FC Kansas City beats Reign for NWSL championship, 2-1
FC Kansas City's Lauren Holiday, left, and Kassey Kallman smile after receiving the championship trophy from Cheryl Bailey, right, league executive director, after defeating the Seattle Reign FC in the NWSL championship soccer match Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in Tukwila, Wash. Kansas City won 2-1. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) — Vlatko Andonovski is glad the last 10 minutes of the National Women's Soccer League title game is over. The stress was almost too much for the FC Kansas City coach.

Amy Rodriguez scored twice and Kansas City held on during a wild finish to capture the NWSL championship with a 2-1 win over Seattle Reign FC at Starfire Stadium on Sunday.

Megan Rapinoe capped a crazy sequence — one that saw a shot hit the crossbar and another blocked in the box — with a goal in the 87th minute for Seattle to make for a frantic final few minutes in which two attempts at an equalizer went wide.

"I think the last 10 minutes shortened my life for 10 years," Andonovski joked.

It is the first title for Kansas City, which knocked off the league's defending champion, the Portland Thorns, in the semifinals.

"Unbelievable," defender Kassey Kallman said of the title. "I mean this is my first professional championship game and it's my first championship winning it, so it's pretty great. I love the team ... it was such a hard fought game and I couldn't think of a better girls to spend the day with."

Rodriguez got behind the defense in the 21st minute and beat former University of Washington star Hope Solo with her left foot to open the scoring.

Last season's scoring champion scored what would prove to be the game-winner in the 56th minute after Lauren Holiday, the game's MVP, provided a timely cross into the box. Rodriguez had to leave the game in the 63rd minute due to cramping, but Andonovski said she would have subbed off shortly anyway.

The Reign controlled the game from the outset, but were unable to find quality shots on goal. Seattle had free kicks just outside the penalty area twice in the second half, but was unable to convert.

"It's just pure disappointment right now, I think," Seattle midfielder Kim Little said. "We did all we could to win the game, but I think today they took their chances, and I think although we had more and maybe dominated the game. We couldn't take ours."

The Reign were the NWSL regular season champions, losing just twice. They scored a total of five goals against Kansas City in three previous matches this year.

"It's a battle," Andonovski said. "It's not just two best teams, we were playing the best team in the league, hands down. Unbelievable roster, great team, great organization, they were very well organized. We knew it was going to be a battle all the way through and we came to battle. I'm just glad the girls were focused all the way through for 90 minutes."
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