August 17, 2011

magicJack Advances to Semifinals

In a very strong performance, magicJack defeated the Boston Breakers 3-1 on Wednesday evening to advance to the WPS semifinal on Saturday. magicJack will meet the Philadelphia Independence in Chester, Pennsylvania.

There were no surprises in the magicJack lineup for the match. Tony DiCicco elected to start Taryn Hemmings instead of Stephanie Cox on the back line, with Amy LePeilbet playing left back.

magicJack came out of the blocks fast, putting pressure on the Breakers' net from the opening whistle. Sophie Schmidt's shot from 25 yards sailed over the crossbar in just the second minute of action.

magicJack broke on top just a few minutes later. Sarah Huffman hit a cross from the far right side. The ball curved away from Boston goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, eluding her and finding a wide open Abby Wambach just eight yards out on the back post. She easily finished into the open net and magicJack was up 1-0 in just the sixth minute.

magicJack continued to pressure the Breakers' defense. Shannon Boxx put one just over the crossbar from 20 yards in the 8th minute. Later, Christen Press' shot from 18 yards was deflected wide by Naeher.

Boston's first good chance came in the 29th minute as Amy LePeilbet's pass found Lauren Cheney cutting across the box, but her shot went just wide of the left post.

Both teams suffered injuries in the first half. Meghan Klingenberg took an awkward fall landing on her arm in the 15th minute. She came off with what appeared to be an arm or wrist injury and was replaced by Elli Reed. Tina Ellertson suffered a hamstring injury later in the half. It was while Ellertson was off the field that Boston evened the score.

LePeilbet took a free kick from 40 yards out, sending it to the center of the penalty area. magicJack managed to head the ball clear but not out. Leslie Osborne nodded the ball back to the center where Keelin Winters volleyed it one-time inside the right post from nine yards out to tie the score. Ellertson was quickly subbed out for Lydia Vandenbergh after the goal.

magicJack nearly retook the lead in the 37th minute as Megan Rapinoe's shot from the left side beat Naeher, but struck the left post and was cleared by Boston. Just a minute later, Rapinoe had another chance as Huffman sent a pass to Press who headed it to Rapinoe, but her shot rolled just wide of the right post.

Boston had a good opportunity right before intermission, with another LePeilbet free kick into the penalty area. But Winters couldn't quite get into position to head the ball on goal and her attempt sailed well wide of the net. The match was tied at the half.

magicJack started the second half right where they left off as Rapinoe sent Press through the Boston defense, but her shot hooked just wide of the right post. But in the 56th minute, things began to fall apart for the Breakers.

Huffman received the ball just to the right edge of the penalty area and made a one-on-one move against Hemmings. Hemmings reached out her right foot and tripped the magicJack midfielder. A penalty was awarded and Abby Wambach scored her second goal of the match, with Naeher guessing wrong, to make it 2-1 for the home team.

Press had another chance just a minute later, but she skied a shot over the bar on a good opportunity from 18 yards out. Rapinoe set up Huffman just minutes later, but her shot also went well over the bar.

magicJack put the game away in the 61st minute as Press was making a run into the right side of the penalty area. She cut back on Hemmings and with Naeher bearing down on her, she hit a beautiful cross that caught Rapinoe in stride and USWNT midfielder headed the ball into the net from six yards to make it 3-1.

With their backs against the wall, the Breakers attempted to insert some offense into the match. Hobbled Kelly Smith came in for Hemmings in the 69th minute. Nikki Marshall subbed in for Aya Sameshima in the 79th minute. For awhile after Smith came in, Boston appeared to be dangerous and Smith definitely gave them a temporary spark, but the English striker is not nearly 100% healthy and her abilities were limited.

In 75th minute, Kelley O'Hara's shot from 22 yards was on frame, but easily handled by Jill Loyden. After that, Boston looked exhausted and really offered no significant threat.

magicJack outshot Boston 17-8 and led in shots on goal by an 8-2 margin. It was fairly dominating performance by the women from south Florida, who had been one of the toughest home teams in the league during the regular season.

magicJack will now travel to Philadelphia where they will meet the second place Independence at PPL Park in Chester at 4 pm on Saturday.

magicJack 3, Boston Breakers 1

mJ-Abby Wambach (Sarah Huffman) 6'
Bos-Keelin Winters (Leslie Osborne) 31'
mJ-Abby Wambach pk 57'
mJ-Megan Rapinoe (Christen Press) 61'

magicJack-Jill Loyden, Marian Dalmy, Christie Rampone, Tina Ellertson (Lydia Vandenbergh 33), Becky Sauerbrunn, Shannon Boxx, Sophie Schmidt (Omolyn Davis 86), Megan Rapinoe, Sarah Huffman (Nikki Washington 86), Abby Wambach, Christen Press.

Boston-Alyssa Naeher, Alex Scott, Rachel Buehler, Taryn Hemmings (Kelly Smith 69), Amy LePeilbet, Leslie Osborne, Keelin Winters, Meghan Klingenberg (Elli Reed 16), Aya Sameshima (Nikki Marshall 79), Lauren Cheney, Kelley O'Hara.

YC-Buehler (Bos) 17, Hemmings (Bos) 35, Winters (Bos) 81.
Shots-magicJack 17, Boston 8.
SOG-magicJack 8, Boston 2.