May 29, 2011

Flash Edges Independence

The Western New York Flash remained unbeaten by defeating the Philadelphia Independence 2-1 in Chester, Pennsylvania.

The Flash maintained their eight point lead over magicJack and now have a 11 point advantage over Philadelphia in the standings.

For the first time this season, however, the Flash fell behind in a match. Philadelphia took the lead in the 9th minute on what appeared to be a harmless looking shot. The Independence moved the ball across the field to Megan Rapinoe on the right side of the field. She struck a shot on a tough angle from the right wing, which went over Ashlyn Harris' head and under the crossbar inside the back post. It was a perfectly placed shot and a stunned Harris was unable to move on the play.

So for the first time this season, the Flash trailed, but it was only for all of five minutes as they quickly responded. Ali Riley hit a well-placed cross from the left wing and McCall Zerboni challenged for the ball as Nicole Barnhart went up to punch the ball out. The ball rebounded to a wide open Becky Edwards who headed into the now empty net.

The Flash took the lead just a few minutes later, as Marta took a corner kick from the left side. The corner went short to Zerboni and as she attempted to dribble toward the net, she was tripped up by Independence defender Nikki Krzysik and a penalty was awarded. Marta put the penalty lower right as Barnhart guessed wrong and the Flash led 2-1 at the 21 minute mark.

That was the only scoring of the first half and as it turned out, the game. Nicole Barnhart made several good saves later in the match. But Philadelphia came close to tying the match in the 65th minute as Tina DiMartino sent a cross in from the right side and it found the head of Tasha Kai. Kai headed the ball down with the ball bouncing high and toward the goal, but Harris was able to time her leap and tip the ball over the bar.

Play got a little physical later in the match and a little chippy at times, but nothing of much consequence. Flash defender Ali Riley came up limping a couple of times during the match, but finished the match. Gina Lewandowski got a rare start as Candace Chapman was out with an injury.

The Flash improved to 6-0-1, good for 19 points and first place. Philadelphia fell to 2-2-2, still in 3rd place with 8 points. The Flash will head home to face Sky Blue on Friday in Rochester. Philadelphia plays at home on Saturday against Atlanta.

WPS Standings (as of May 29, 2011)
(1) Western New York 6-0-1, 19 pts; (2) magicJack 4-1-0, 11 pts; (3) Philadelphia 2-2-2, 8 pts; (4) Sky Blue FC 2-3-1, 7 pts; (5) Boston 2-5-1, 7 pts; (6) Atlanta 1-6-1, 4 pts.