May 22, 2011

Western New York Shuts Out magicJack

The Western New York Flash have solidified their hold on first place, defeating magicJack by a 3-0 score. The Flash got goals from Becky Edwards and Caroline Seger, plus Seger later converted a penalty to account for the final score.

The first half was played at a frenetic pace, with scoring chances seemingly coming by the minute. MagicJack's decision to go with a three-back defense appeared to be a mistake, as Western New York owned the first 20 minutes of the match. The Flash put an onslaught on the magicJack goal with only great goalkeeping by Hope Solo keeping her team in the match.

The Flash got on the board just over one minute into the match. Kandace Wilson sent a beautiful pass through to Marta who dribbled in on goal. Solo came out to make a stop on Marta 10 yards from the goal. The rebound went to Christine Sinclair who drilled one off the crossbar, followed by another rebound by Becky Edwards that deflected off a magicJack defender and into the net.

In the 17th minute, Solo stopped Alex Morgan from point blank range. Just a minute later, Solo dove to save a Christine Sinclair shot, only to have the ball deflected off the crossbar by her own defender. She then scrambled to grab the ball before anymore damage could be done. And then it was Solo again stopping Morgan twice from inside 10 yards in the 19th minute. The Flash could have easily held a three or four goal advantage at that point, but it was still 1-0.

It was about that time that the momentum changed and magicJack started to put pressure on. In the 21st minute, Shannon Boxx blistered a shot off the crossbar, followed by a Meghan Schnur shot that sailed just over the bar.

In the 28th minute, Ashlyn Harris made a great diving punch save on Ella Masar. A few minutes later, it was Harris robbing Masar yet again on a lunging save on Masar's shot from 12 yards. Although she did not score, Masar would be a thorn in the Flashes' side all night long.

With magicJack knocking on the door and coming on strong, Caroline Seger scored against the run of play to make it 2-0 very late in the first half. Dribbling inside the box toward the right side and with everyone expecting her to pass, she suddenly turned and hit a low shot through Megan Schnur's legs that Hope Solo probably never saw and into the left side of the net. Western New York weathered a late push to keep the score at 2-0 in their favor at the half.

After such an action-packed first half, it was almost predictable that the second half couldn't keep up that pace and both teams seemed to settle into the game after the intermission.

The first really good chance of the second half came in the 59th minute as Sinclair hit a volley from just outside the penalty area, with Solo again coming up with the big save on a dive to her right.

Yael Averbuch entered the game in the 2nd half, seeing her first action since the opener for Western New York.

MagicJack nearly cut the lead in half in the 83rd minute as Ella Masar's shot from six yards went just over the bar and the unlucky Masar was again denied a goal.

Western New York finished the scoring in the 84th minute. Marta and Tina Ellertson, who had been battling all night, fought for a ball going into the box, both running at full speed. Ellertson reached out her arm in an attempt to slow Marta and shield her from the ball with the Flash striker going down and a penalty was awarded. Caroline Seger converted the penalty, as the ball went just beyond the fingertips of Solo, as the magicJack keeper had guessed correctly.

There were a few anxious moments among the Flash faithful and soccer fans in general, as Marta appeared to turn an ankle and was walking quite gingerly after she was able to get up. However, she stayed on and appeared to be running without discomfort later in the match.

Ashlyn Harris got the shutout in goal for the Flash. They raise their record to 5-0-1, with 16 points. They are now eight points clear of second place magicJack, who fell to 3-1-0, with 8 points. Western New York travels to Philadelphia next weekend, while magicJack returns home to host Atlanta.

It was announced by WPS that magicJack owner Dan Borislow has been fined $10,000 and has been suspended from serving in any technical capacity for magicJack for two games, effective immediately, for "public statements that are derogatory and not in the best interests of the league."