July 7, 2011

Kai Nets Hat Trick in Philadelphia Win

Tasha Kai got a rare WPS hat trick as the Philadelphia Independence defeated Sky Blue FC 4-3 on Wednesday evening. And to make it a perfect evening for Kai, her mother and brother were in attendance to see her performance.

The Independence temporarily take over first place, although it must be said that they have played two more matches than Western New York. Sky Blue remains in 4th place, tied with the Boston Breakers.

Kai's hat track was only the second ever in WPS play. The first was almost two years ago, on July 12, 2009, when Cristiane scored a hat trick for the Chicago Red Stars against FC Gold Pride. Kai's is the first hat trick that did not include a penalty kick. ***

Kai scored the opening goal of the match in just the third minute and later scored the game tying goal twice to bring Philadelphia back after they had fallen behind.

After Kai had scored to put Philly on top, a defensive mixup caused an own goal to the benefit of Sky Blue, which tied the match at one. Rookie Alyssa Mautz scored her first career goal, heading one home in the 20th minute to temporarily give Sky Blue a 2-1 lead.

Kai tied the match with a header of her own in the 29th minute. But the Independence surrendered the lead again before halftime, as veteran defender Kendall Fletcher also scored her first WPS goal in her 45th career game.

Kai tied the match yet again in the 57th minute on an assist by Spanish striker Veronica Boquete. But it was another Spanish striker who would get the game winner, as Laura del Rio scored in the 78th minute, just moments after she had subbed in for Kai, to seal the win for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia raises their record to 6-2-3, good for 21 points. Sky Blue falls to 3-4-3, suffering their first loss in six outings. This was the second highest scoring WPS game ever, behind a 4-4 match between Sky Blue and Washington back in 2009. Interestingly enough, Kai scored two goals in that match.

*** In fact, Kai's hat trick was the third WPS hat trick ever and the second that did not include a penalty kick. Abby Wambach scored a hat trick on May 28 of this season against the Atlanta Beat. My sincerest apologies for the error and thanks to my friend Austin for pointing that error out.