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Independence wallop Sky Blue

As temperatures reached nearly 100° in the Philadelphia area on Saturday, even the announcers of the WPS match between the Philadelphia Independence and New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC were shiny with sweat during the pregame introductions.

The Independence made things even hotter for the visitors with a 4–1 win.

Philadelphia wasted no time and had their first scoring opportunity from a Lianne Sanderson header in the second minute of play.

Sky Blue countered in the 6th minute with a shot from Kasey White from distance that banged off of the crossbar. The Independence immediately counterattacked. Caroline Seger streaked up the flank to cross the ball behind the Sky Blue defence to the head of Joanna Lohman who made no mistake. 1–0 Independence.

Seconds later Amy Rodriguez raced to a beautiful through ball from Seger to make it 2–0.

Soon after Lohman nearly had a second goal with a shot in the box that was just outside the post but forced the keeper to make a diving save.

In the 21st minute Holmfridur Magnusdottir made a great run up the left flank after picking the ball up around the midfield line. She cut inside her defender and delivered a low blast from inside the box to make it 3–0.

The Independence backline effective deployed the offside trap to stop Sky Blue from running on to goal. The visitors had their best chance of the first half in the 31st minute when cross from Kierstin Dallstream found an unmarked Patrizia Panico who headed wide.

Sky Blue pressed at the start of the second half and Independence keeper Val Henderson was forced to make a strong effort to save a shot from Kasey White in the 48th minute.

Three minutes later, another great pass from Seger found the speedy Rodriguez, who took a touch and then left-footed the ball past Sky Blue keeper Kristin Luckenbill only three minutes later to make it 4–0. Rodriguez now has nine goals for the season.

Soon after, Liane Sanderson had a chance to get a fifth Independence goal on a breakaway in the 62nd minute but Luckenbill made a fine save.

Sky Blue finally got on the board in the 81st minute when Brittany Taylor made a 30 yard run and chipped Henderson for the goal. Moments later Taylor nearly struck again but Henderson’s kick save was equal to the shot.

Coach Paul Riley said, “Before the game we really challenged players like Magnusdottir and Seger to step up to the plate, and they did. They were big contributors tonight. We looked at our past lineups and we realized that every time we have Jen Buczkowski at holding center midfield, we win. Her sitting in that spot allows Lohman and Seger to get forward, and we need them involved offensively.”

Seger entered the match with no goals and only one assist. Speaking of her three assists after the game she said, “It feels awesome. We’ve played twelve games and I finally feel like I am getting a hold on this league and playing well. I am so happy right now, it feels great to play soccer when it is easy.”

This was Sky Blue keeper Luckenbill’s last game for the club. The Connestoga High School grad, who is leaving for graduate school, said after the match, “It’s sad to have this end…Overall, it’s been a fantastic journey.”

The win puts the Independence solidly in second place in the league table. The team next hosts Chicago Red Stars on Wednesday night. Kickoff is at 7pm.

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