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Final report: WNY Flash 1 – 1 Independence (5-4 in PKs)

In a game worthy of a championship, the Western New York Flash defeated the Philadelphia Independence in a shootout 5-4 after the teams ended 120 minutes of soccer tied at one.

Ashlyn Harris saved Laura del Rio’s penalty on Philadelphia’s fifth and final shot after every shooter had converted for both teams. Christine Sinclair scored a 54th minute goal to give WNY the lead before Amy Rodriguez struck in the 86th to force extra time.

Meeting expectations

In a year that has seen women’s soccer prove it belongs many times over, the WPS Final lived up to the hype. In a physical first half, chances were hard to come by with each team managing only one shot on goal.

Tasha Kai took an early blow to the head from what looked like an elbow from former Independence player Caroline Seger. The Swedish international should count herself lucky to avoid a booking for the foul. Kai stayed down for a few minutes before getting to her feet and continuing.

Second half drama

The second half opened up a bit but both teams still found chances hard to come by. Philadelphia started the brighter of the two teams and Amy Rodriguez had a great chance to get the Independence on the board when she was put in over the top by Vero Boquete. Rodriguez rounded the onrushing Harris but pushed her touch too far, eliminating her angle. She eventually cut the ball back for Kai, but the striker could only drag her shot wide of goal.

Sinclair strikes

The Flash made Philadelphia pay for failing to convert by finishing one of their few chances. Christine Sinclair found a few yards of room behind the Independence defense and latched onto a ball over the top. Nicole Barnhart could have been quicker off her line to snuff out the chance, but was first to it and finished to the far post with a terrific left-footed drive.

Riley responds

Paul Riley brought on Danesha Adams, Laura del Rio, and Lianne Sanderson to look for the equalizer but the Independence had trouble breaking down a hearty WNY back line. The breakthrough for Philadelphia finally came in the 86th minute when Rodriguez was able to pounce on a rebound off the post and finish from a difficult angle to force extra time.

Extra time

As expected, the extra period was a defensive stand-off between two tired but talented teams. Beverly Goebel received her marching orders for a second yellow card in the 109th minute for cutting down Boquete, who was breaking through the midfield. The Independence could not make their numerical advantage count, however, and Rodriguez missed a fantastic chance late in the match after being played in by Boquete on the right side.

Nicole Barnhart made the Independence’s save of the season to deny Caroline Seger at the death of the game on a WNY corner kick. The ball was bouncing into the far corner when Barnhart reached back and seemed to pull it out of the goalmouth with her right hand.

Penalties!

Both teams took quality penalties. Lianne Sanderson, Danesha Adams, Leigh Ann Robinson, and Boquete made their kicks before del Rio’s was saved by Harris.

WNY didn’t miss, with McCall Zerboni, Marta, Christine Sinclair, Yael Averbuch and Caroline Seger all finishing with aplomb. Barnhart was unlucky not to save Marta’s, Sinclair’s or Seger’s as she guessed correctly on all of them.

Conclusion

All told, it was a fantastic finale to an exciting WPS season. Philadelphia will count themselves unlucky and rue their missed opportunities after creating more chances in the final. But WNY has been a quality side all season and few will argue they are not deserving champions.

Analysis, player ratings, post-game quotes, and a photo essay are coming upon our return from Rochester.

3 Comments

  1. Tough loss but great game to watch and brilliant season! Well done!

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