May 8, 2011

magicJack Remains Unbeaten; Philly Defeats Breakers

magicJack 2, Atlanta Beat 0

Rookie Christen Press scored her first WPS goal and Ella Masar added another as magicJack won their third straight by a 2-0 margin over Atlanta in Boca Raton.

Press, who led all scorers in college with 26 goals in 2010, scored her first professional goal with magicJack. Her goal came in the 64th minute, after Ella Masar had opened the scoring in the 24th minute. The Stanford alum was the number four overall selection in the January draft. Masar's goal was her second of the season.

Hope Solo earned the shutout for magicJack, who outshot Atlanta by a 12-2 margin. This was the second shutout of the season for magicJack.

magicJack has a bye week before heading to Rochester to play the league's other unbeaten team, Western New York, on May 22 in what should be an interesting matchup. Atlanta, whose record fell to 1-3-1, will return home to face Philadelphia next Sunday.

Philadelphia Independence 2, Boston Breakers 0

The Independence played an all-round solid match in defeating the Breakers 2-0 tonight in Chester, Pennsylvania. It was the first home match and the first victory of the season for Philadelphia.

Both goalkeepers were sharp early on. In the 17th minute, Tina DiMartino found Tasha Kai alone on the left side, but Breakers' keeper Alyssa Naeher slid out to stop Kai's shot.

Later in the half, Kelly Smith was able to control a loose ball at the 18 and after a quick touch to the left, unleashed a wicked shot in tight space that Nicole Barnhart was just barely able to tip over the crossbar. Later, Smith nearly sent Alex Scott through, but a sliding Barnhart was able to thwart that effort.

Philadelphia finally broke through in the 41st minute on a great effort by Tasha Kai. Leigh Ann Robinson sent a long ball out of the back to start the play. Kai was able to fend off Boston defender Ifeoma Dieke to get her shot off past Naeher. The ball hit the right post, rebounding in front of the net. Kai hustled to the ball and finished with a diving header, just ahead of Dieke, to put the Independence up 1-0.

Philadelphia continued to pressure into the second half. Tina DiMartino made a long run from the right sideline to the top of the box, before finding Amy Rodriguez on the left side. Rodriguez struck a low shot that Naeher made a terrific save on, only to have Lianne Sanderson find the rebound and knock it home from an extreme angle on the far side of the net.

From that point forward, the Independence controlled the match. Boston's players looked more and more weary as the match wore on, perhaps a by product of having several USWNT players on their team who had just concluded a vigorous training camp in Florida.

For her part, Naeher tried to keep her team in the match, making several nice saves in the second half. She twice disappointed Laura del Rio with nice saves and stopped Sinead Farrelly on yet another. Naeher dodged a bullet in the 81st minute as Lori Lindsey's blast from 22 yards sailed over the net.

Philadelphia's defense was strong throughout the match and were able to keep the Boston attack in check. Their midfield did an excellent job of controlling the field and linking with forwards Kai, Rodriguez, and del Rio.

The Independence earned a well-deserved victory for their performance and evened their record at 1-1-1. They are now tied for 4th place with four points. Boston dropped to 2-3-0 and sit in 3rd place for the moment.

Philadelphia travels to Atlanta to meet the Beat next Sunday. Boston travels to Rochester to face league leading Western New York on Friday night.

WPS Standings
(1)Western New York (3-0-1, 10 pts); (2)magicJack (3-0-0, 9 pts); (3)Boston (2-3-0, 6 pts); (4)Philadelphia (1-1-1, 4 pts); (5)Atlanta (1-3-1, 4 pts); (6)Sky Blue FC (0-3-1, 1 pt).