May 15, 2011

Short-Handed Independence Defeats Beat

Down a player and a goal heading into the second half, the Philadelphia Independence managed to come from behind to defeat the Atlanta Beat 2-1. The victory vaults Philadelphia into third place behind Western New York and magicJack.

The game did not start off well for Philadelphia. In the 13th minute, Atlanta striker Meghan Lenczyk got a half step on Independence defender Kia McNeill while trying to run onto the ball. McNeill grabbed Lenczyk's left arm to slow her just outside the Philly penalty area and with nothing between Lenczyk and the goal except keeper Val Henderson, referee Ted Unkel pulled out the red card on McNeill.

Atlanta nearly struck in the 28th minute, with Keeley Dowling and Lenczyk executing a nice give-and-go play. Dowling came charging right down the middle and struck a shot that was kept out of the net only by Val Henderson's save.

The Beat did strike in first half stoppage. The play started with Lenczyk heading the ball out to the right wing to Megan Jesolva. Jesolva passed the ball into the box to Lenczyk, who turned and centered the ball perfectly for Lori Chalupny. Chalupny's strike from 10 yards was true and into the right side of the net past Henderson to put Atlanta up 1-0.

While things looked bleak for the Independence, it didn't take them long to even the score. India Trotter was whistled for a foul on Tasha Kai just outside the Beat penalty area. Lianne Sanderson's free kick from 25 yards was a low shot that deflected slightly off the wall, forcing Beat goalkeeper Alli Lipsher to dive for the ball. She stopped the ball fairly comfortably, but was unable to control it and Estelle Johnson came in from the left side to knock it home and tie the match at one.

Philadelphia grabbed the lead in the 73rd minute. Tina DiMartino sent a nicely weighted ball through for Kai. Kai crossed the ball to the left side of the penalty area for Joanna Lohman. Lohman found herself well marked and smartly touched the ball back to the center where Laura del Rio found herself all alone. del Rio's left-footed shot found the left side of the net to put the Independence on top 2-1.

Philadelphia lifts their record to 2-1-1, while Atlanta falls to 1-4-1. It was a tough loss for the Beat who now face three road matches in a row starting with a visit to New Jersey to face Sky Blue next Saturday. The Independence travel to Boston to face the Breakers next Sunday.