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2-2 draw in battle for second place

Playing at home on Sunday night the Independence had an opportunity to emphatically claim second place against their closest challenger, the Boston Breakers. Leading at halftime 2–1, in the end, they had to settle for a draw.

Boston, who are 6–1–1 in their last eight games, scored first when, in the 25th minute, former Philadelphia Charge player Kelly Smith carried the ball up the left flank and passed to Lauren Cheney at the top of the box. Cheyney turned her defender and netted a curling shot past Independence keeper Karina LeBlanc.

Holmfridur Magnusdottir, who had missed the mid-week loss to Washington due to a red card suspension, equalized four minutes later with a terrific free kick from 25 yards out that deflected off of the wall and into goal.

Two minutes later Magnusdottir made it 2–1. Receiving a pass form Caroline Seger, her shot from distance struck the right post, deflected off of the Boston keeper and into goal.

Independence coach Paul Riley said after the game, “Frida [Magnusdottir] was fantastic and was dangerous coming out of the back. We missed that on Wednesday when she wasn’t in the game, and it proved crucial tonight.”

Philadelphia largely dominated the run of play for the rest of the half. But in the second half Boston began to control the action and in the 51st minute Smith added a goal to her assist with a low, left-footed shot. It was Smith’s tenth goal of the season.

Amy Rodriguez was again marked closely throughout the match by Boston’s defense, though her speed remained evident. In the last minute of play, a through ball from Lianne Sanderson was a touch too heavy for Rodriguez to catch up to. Moments later, Sanderson nearly caught up to a similar ball from Caroline Seger but Boston’s keeper was equal to the threat.

LeBlanc had a good game between the posts. She stopped two dangerous shots in the 57th minute and another in the 75th to keep the scoreline level. “You have to give Boston credit,” LeBlanc said. “They are fighters, and it is why they are on this streak.”

Boston Head Coach Tony DiCicco said, “I think we had the better of the chances in the second half. It’s a shame we didn’t get the game-winner, but we fought back from going a goal down and I’m proud of the performance tonight.”

Riley said of the Independence, “Overall I was pleased with our performance.”

Philadelphia travel to Chicago to face the fourth place Red Stars on Wednesday. The Independence are unbeaten against Chicago this season, with a win at home and a win away.

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Independence

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