September 11, 2010

Freedom Make Playoffs

The Washington Freedom defeated the Atlanta Beat 1-0 to earn the fourth and final WPS playoff berth. Abby Wambach scored in the 88th minute to lift the Freedom to victory.

Washington controlled most of the first half of the match, but Atlanta came on toward the end of the half. Still, the Freedom had a healthy edge in shots at the intermission.

In the second half, two goals were disallowed, one by each team. In the 60th minute, Atlanta had a free kick from about 40 yards out which was sent into the box by Aya Miyama. The ball eluded Lauren Sesselmann and two Freedom defenders, then bounced over Ashlyn Harris' head into the net. The goal was apparently called back on a foul by Sesselmann, although there was no official explanation at the time.

Shortly thereafter, Lauren Sesselmann picked up her second yellow card of the match for taking down Anita Asante, putting Atlanta down a player for the remainder of the match.

Later, the Freedom scored what appeared to be the go ahead goal by Christie Welsh, only to have it called back on an offside call.

Finally, in the 88th minute Wambach ran onto a long ball over the Atlanta defense and chipped the ball over the onrushing Hope Solo for the only goal of the match.

As it turned out, Sky Blue playing to a scoreless tie against Boston meant that Washington was in the playoffs anyhow, but the victory in a key game gives them some momentum heading into the playoffs. The Freedom are the only team to make the WPS playoffs in both years, last year finishing third before falling in the first round match against Sky Blue. Washington will travel to either Boston or Philadelphia to play next Sunday.

Sky Blue FC 0, Boston Breakers 0

Sky Blue and Boston played to a scoreless tie at Yurcak Field, ending Sky Blue's quest for a playoff berth.

With both their game and the Freedom/Beat game being played at the same time and both being scoreless into the 88th minute, there was a great deal of tension entering the final moments of both matches. As it turned out, the Sky Blue game was just finishing up about the time Abby Wambach was scoring her game winning goal for the Freedom.

Alyssa Naeher got the shutout for the Breakers, while Meghann Burke earned the shutout for Sky Blue.

Sky Blue's loss means that there will be a different WPS champion this year. At the moment, it appears that Boston will hold on to 2nd place in spite of the tie and will host the Super Semi-Final