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Philadelphia Independence 2 – 1 Western New York Flash

cover photo by Michael Long

The Independence won their fifth straight game on Saturday to go four points clear on the top of the table over the visiting Western New York Flash. Tasha Kai scored her league-leading 8th goal of the campaign and Sinead Farrelly notched her first ever career goal for the winner.

The Flash came into the match missing a number of starters still away on national team duty, including Marta and Caroline Seger. Canadian internationals Candace Wilson and Christine Sinclair did rejoin the team after Canada was eliminated last week, but Sinclair was restricted to only the second half of play. The Independence are still without starting goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, midfielder Lori Lindsey, and striker Amy Rodriguez.

Philadelphia again got out on the front foot, scoring only 8 minutes into the match. The move started with the ever-dangerous Veronica Boquete beating her defender and playing a smart ball for Christina DiMartino on the right side. DiMartino chipped the ball over the NY back line and Kai was in on goal. Kai took one touch to control the ball and finished to the far post with her second touch. It was the striker’s sixth goal in the last four games.

DiMartino had a chance to double the Philadelphia lead later in the half as a long ball played in over the top found the diminutive winger in on goal from almost 40 yards. With goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris advancing at her, she could only pull her shot wide of the left post though. She will be disappointed not to have finished or even managed to get her shot on goal.

The Independence would finally double the lead just before the half. After more good work from Kai inside the NY box, the striker cannoned a right footed shot that hit square off the far post only to fall into the path of Farrelly, who rolled the ball into the empty net. Farrelly said afterwards, “Tasha did most of the work, I was just in the right place and I was happy I could get it over the line.” The goal was even sweeter for the midfielder, as a large contingent from the Haverford Soccer Club was in attendance, which was her club growing up.

Christine Sinclair, wearing a face mask from a nasty broken nose in the World Cup, came in to start the second half and brought the Flash more into the game. In the first half, even after going down a goal, NY was willing to concede possession to Philadelphia and didn’t manage a single shot. They started the second half with much higher pressure and more intent in the offensive side of things.

But with NY pushing higher up the field, they were exposed at the back and Philadelphia almost put the game out of reach on a few occasions. In the 56th minute, a Kai cross could not be finished by either DiMartino or Danesha Adams with the ball bouncing in the box. Kai herself had a shot hit the bar in the 59th minute. Adams was in on goal on 80 minutes after another terrific pass from Boquete, but the striker could only hit her shot straight at Harris.

New York made the Independence pay for their missed opportunities when they were awarded with a PK on 82 minutes. Even after asking at the end of the match, I’m still not sure what the call was or who the penalty was called on, but the contact looked minimal and New York were lucky to have the chance. Sinclair stepped up and easily dispatched the penalty, sending Val Henderson the wrong way.

New York piled on the pressure for the last few minutes, but could not find the equalizer and Philadelphia saw the game out. The win moves Philadelphia four points clear of the Flash, though Philadelphia has played two more games. The teams will not meet again this season after already playing three times. Coach Paul Riley was happy with the result, saying “A month ago we were 12 points behind them, and now to be 4 points ahead of them, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Player Ratings

Val Henderson – 8

Not a whole lot to do for the goalkeeper as New York managed 5 shots, with only 3 being on goal. Didn’t have a chance at the PK, but made a few stops late in the game to keep the lead.

Leigh Ann Robinson – 6

Another mediocre performance by the right back. With New York sitting deep in their own half for much of the first 45 minutes, I’d like to see her get more involved in the offense. She didn’t often and when she did, her sevice was not there.

Nikki Krzysik – 8

Good stuff in the center of the defense from the captain. Organized well throughout, cleaned up any scraps and started the offense with smart distribution.

Kia McNeill – 7

Not a lot to do until Sinclair came on in the second half. Marked her well and didn’t allow her a sniff on goal from open play. Her distribution could be better, but that’s not what she’s on the pitch for.

Estelle Johnson – 7

Good game for Johnson. Was more involved in the offense than Robinson and defended the left flank well all evening.

Jen Buczkowski – 7

Like Brian Carroll for the Union, not always the most visible player on the field, but does her job exceedingly well. Broke up the NY attack well, especially in the second half when they came more into the game. Needs to get on the ball more to distribute.

Christina DiMartino – 7

Was better on Saturday than she was on Wednesday when she seemed tired. Worked well down the right flank most of the evening. Should have scored a goal when she was clean through. Had a nice assist to Kai.

Veronica Boquete – 8

The playmaker once again. Great pass involved in the build up to the Kai goal. Should have had another assist when Adams failed to score.

Sinead Farrelly – 8

Playing her most consistent soccer of the season right now. Getting on the ball in good places, is confident in taking players on and was rightfully rewarded with her first goal.

Tasha Kai – 8

More industry, more recklessness and more goals from the striker. Is dominant in the air in the offensive third, winning every flick on she goes up for. Her goal was coolly taken and she was unlucky not to have another.

Danesha Adams – 7

Better match from Adams who seemed out of it midweek. Was quicker to move the ball and more confident 1 v 1. Her set pieces, especially her corners are top notch.

Subs

Holmfridur Magnusdottir – 6

Was a force off the bench on Wednesday, less so on Saturday. Ran hard and pressured well on the NY back line, but couldn’t find the space to be too involved in the offense.

Joanna Lohman – 7

Came in for DiMartino to settle the match after New York finally started to attack. Calm on the ball and a good defender on the outside midfield.

Lianne Sanderson – n/a

2 Comments

  1. The Independence are in irresistible form right now. Western New York got a bogus penalty and Sinclair was the only player who offered much threat, though she was tightly marked by Krzysik and McNeill.

    And wait until they get A.Rod back. LOOK OUT!!!

  2. The world cup women will be returning making the remainder of the season a lot more intense. The heat of July and August combined with a rush to the playoffs…should be great soccer.

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