August 1, 2010

Flash Win W-League Championship

The Buffalo Flash defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 to win the 2010 W-League Championship. The match was played Saturday evening in Santa Clarita, California.

Both teams entered the contest unbeaten. Buffalo posted a 10-0-2 regular season record, before defeating Toronto, Ottawa, and finally Atlanta in the semifinals. Vancouver had a 6-0-4 regular season mark and defeated Pali Blues in the Western Conference final, before taking a 3-1 decision over Hudson Valley Quickstrike in the semis.

After a scoreless first half in which Buffalo had the better of play, a defensive miscue by the Flash back line led to a goal by the Whitecaps. Amy Vermeulen picked up a loose ball about 30 yards out and placed a perfect shot over the outstretched arms of Flash keeper Pam Tajonar and just under the crossbar to put Vancouver up 1-0 in the 57th minute.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Buffalo tied the score in the 61st minute. After a nice buildup by the Flash, Kelly Parker passed the ball out to Gemma Davisson who took a touch to about eight yards out. Davisson then placed the shot perfectly upper right for the tying goal.

It didn't stay tied for long. The Flash forced a Vancouver turnover in the midfield. Mele French picked up the loose ball and hit a beautiful through ball to Veronica Boquete, who burst past the Whitecap defense to score from 12 yards out.

Parker nearly made it 3-1 in the 87th minute, but her shot from the right side went just past the left post. But it was only a minute later that Boquete scored her second of the game, assisted by Parker. Once again, it was Boquete's speed that got her clear of the Whitecap defense, beating Vancouver goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain with her finish in the lower left.

Vancouver pressured in the closing minutes, but were unable to make a dent in the Buffalo lead. The Whitecaps were playing the match without their two leading scorers, Melissa Tancredi and Jodi-Ann Robinson.

The game featured several former WPS players. In addition to Parker, who played for the champion Sky Blue FC last season, Jenny Anderson-Hammond, Mele French, Analisa Marquez have spent varying lengths of time in the WPS. Whitecap defender Martina Franko played last season with the LA Sol, before leaving the team on maternity leave.

Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues took the 3rd place match with a 3-0 victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks.