August 14, 2011

Cheney Leads Boston to Playoffs

Boston Breakers 2, Sky Blue FC 0

Lauren Cheney scored just 14 seconds into the match and then added another to lead the Boston Breakers to a 2-0 victory over Sky Blue. The victory moved Boston into a fourth place tie with Sky Blue, with the Breakers winning the final playoff berth by tiebreaker. The Breakers won the head-to-head matchup with Sky Blue for the season.

Cheney, who had just one goal entering the contest, wasted no time in putting Boston in the lead. Keelin Winters sent a cross to Cheney, who volleyed it one-time past Jen Branam and the Breakers led 1-0.

Cheney scored her second of the match in the 18th minute. Meghan Klingenberg sent a cross into the penalty area with Cheney getting a piece of it to redirect it into the goal for a 2-0 lead.

Sky Blue attempted to get back in the match by making early substitutions for offense. Coach Jim Gabarra brought Casey Nogueira in for defender Petra Hogewoning late in the first half, going to a three back formation. Later, Adriana subbed in for Danielle Johnson with Sky Blue going to a two back formation. But in spite of all efforts, they had dug themselves too big of a hole.

Alyssa Naeher picked up the shutout for Boston. It was her fifth of the season tying her with Jen Branam and Ashlyn Harris for the league best.

Boston ended a four game losing streak with this victory. They finish the regular season with a 5-9-4 record. It is the worst record of any team ever to make the WPS playoffs. Only two other teams with a losing record have made the playoffs. The 2010 Washington Freedom finished at 8-9-7 and were eliminated in the first round. The 2009 Sky Blue team finished 7-8-5, but went on to win three straight in the playoffs to capture the championship.

Sky Blue finishes the season with an identical 5-9-4 record, after coming within a couple minutes of clinching a playoff berth last weekend against Philadelphia.

Boston will now travel to Boca Raton to face magicJack in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday at 7:30 pm eastern time. The game will be televised on Fox Soccer.

magicJack 2, Philadelphia Independence 1

The duo of Lisa De Vanna and Ella Masar hooked up for two goals and magicJack was able to hold on for a 2-1 win over Philadelphia. The loss ended Philly's quest for first place in WPS.

Both teams rested several regulars for the match. Karina LeBlanc got her first start in goal for the season after being a mainstay in the league the past two seasons. She rewarded coach Abby Wambach with a victory.

De Vanna was making only her third start of the season as coach Abby Wambach elected to not start herself. She opened the scoring ten minutes into the match on an assist by Masar. De Vanna added another goal in the second half, once again from Masar, to make it 2-0.

Philadelphia cut the lead to 2-1, as Amy Rodriguez scored in the 79th minute, assisted by Laura del Rio. It was Rodriguez' second of the year.

MagicJack finishes the season at 9-7-2, making the playoffs for the third time in franchise history. They made the playoffs the previous two years as the Washington Freedom, but were eliminated in the first round on each occasion. Philadelphia drops to 11-4-3 and finishes in second place.

MagicJack will now host the first round playoff match against the Boston Breakers on Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm eastern. Philadelphia will host the winner of that match next Saturday in the semifinal match.

Western New York Flash 2, Atlanta Beat 0

Western New York clinched the regular season title and then went on to defeat Atlanta 2-0 on Sunday evening in Rochester. About a third of the way through the match, the Flash knew that Philly had lost to magicJack, thus giving the Flash the regular season title.

After Atlanta had played very well early on, Western New York took the lead in the 37th minute as Caroline Seger volleyed in a Alex Morgan cross to give the Flash the lead before the intermission.

While Atlanta had played tough for most of the first half, the second was literally dominated by the Flash who created chance after chance. Only a few offsides calls and some dicey finishing kept Atlanta in the match.

The Flash finally put the game away in the 75th minute as Christine Sinclair sent a through-ball to Marta who raced onto it and touched it past Allison Whitworth. For Marta, it was her 10th goal of the season, drawing her even with Sinclair for the league lead in that category.

The Flash finish with a 13-2-3 record and will now host the WPS Championship match on August 27. Ashlyn Harris picks up her fifth shutout of the season, tying her for the WPS lead in that category. The Flash became the first WPS team to average more than two goals per game, scoring 40 times in just 18 matches.

Atlanta finishes the season with 1-13-4 record, not having scored in the last 757 minutes of the season. Their last goal was in a June 11 game against magicJack and they failed to score a goal on the road during the season.

Final WPS Regular Season Standings
(1) Western New York 13-2-3, 42 pts; (2) Philadelphia 11-4-3, 36 pts; (3) magicJack 9-7-2, 28 pts; (4) Boston 5-9-4, 19 pts; (5) Sky Blue FC 5-9-4, 19 pts; (6) Atlanta 1-13-4, 7 pts.

magicJack was penalized a point during the season.

Boston won the tiebreaker over Sky Blue based on head-to-head points.