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September 23, 2010 8:00 PM EDT
Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium — Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Philadelphia Independence 2-1 Boston Breakers: Independence Win Another Overtime Thriller

A controversial Danesha Adams goal puts Philadelphia in the WPS Championship.

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

Philadelphia Independence (Howard C. Smith, ISIPhotos.net)
That four-game losing streak to end the season must seem like years ago for the Philadelphia Independence.

The third seed went into the New Harvard Stadium in Boston, Mass., and topped the second-seeded Boston Breakers, 2-1, in extra time on Thursday night in the WPS Super Semifinal. For Philadelphia, it was their second straight overtime playoff win, needing the extra 30 minutes to top Washington at home on Sunday, 1-0.

Boston, who was 2-0-2 against Philadelphia this season prior to the loss, got out to the early lead when Lauren Cheney put one past Val Henderson. But that was all the home side could get off the aggressive keeper. Caroline Seger evened the match at 1-apiece in the 29th minute. That score held through the second half until Danesha Adams gave Philly the lead they would hold to victory.

Adams' goal in the 103rd minute was a controversial one, as it seemed like the second-half substitute hit the ball in the goal with her hand. But the official did not see, nor call it that way. It proved to be the goal that sent the expansion Independence into the WPS Championship match. That game will be played on Sunday afternoon against FC Gold Pride.

Philadelphia has played 240 minutes of soccer in four days, and will need at least another 90 strong on Sunday if they hope to continue their march through the postseason.

Here's how they got to the finals.

First Half

In the opening 45 minutes, Boston showed why it finished the 2010 WPS regular season as the second-best club, holding the majority of possession and accumulating far more chances than its third-placed counterpart.

But despite its overall dominance, when the final whistle of the half was blown, the Breakers and Independence were knotted at 1-1.

Boston's rookie striker Cheney got the scoring started in the 22nd minute.

Kristine Lilly sent a long ball to Cheney, who outran Allison Falk to the ball. Independence keeper Henderson, who looked confused a number of times running off her line, was caught in no-man's land when Cheney got to the ball.

Cheney, essentially Philadelphia Independence striker Amy Rodriguez's replacement for the Breakers, chipped the ball from 20 yards out with Henderson standing at the penalty spot. The ball cleared the reach of Henderson and grazed the post as it went in for the 1-0 lead.

Boston continued to create chances, with Fabiana playing a strong first half, but Henderson recovered from her miscue and kept the Breakers at bay the rest of the half.

Then in the 29th minute, with Boston dominating, the Independence answered.

Rodriguez retrieved a loose ball 40 yards from goal. After turning, she played a ball to the feet of Tina DiMartino who sent a wall pass back to Rodriguez. After taking a touch, the Independence's leading scorer (13) showed her unselfishness by dishing a pass to Seger in the box, who slid a shot to the far post, tucking it in the side netting to even the match.

Second Half

Rodriguez got the chances for both sides started just five minutes into the second half. The former University of Southern California standout ran past WPS Defender of the Year Amy LePeilbet in the 50th minute, then dribbled by Breakers keeper Alyssa Naeher and shot it at the open net. But Rodriguez was off balance for her shot and it trickled wide.

Fabiana continued to cause havoc to the Independence back line. She was fed by Cheney on the right flank behind the defense and drilled a low cross for Lilly that was just out of her reach in the 53rd minute.

Again in the 56th minute, Rodriguez was past Naeher with just the goal to hit. But after dribbling around Naeher in the box this time, she rushed her shot and missed wide.

After the early chances in the second half, play seemed to slow down to a lull with neither team showing half the aggression displayed in the first half.

It wasn't until the 83rd minute when either side had a threat -- a Stephanie Cox 30-yard shot that went right to Henderson in net.

Boston got another close call in the 86th minute when Cheney threatened with a pair of shots: a header over the bar on a free kick and a shot that Henderson punched out.

Kelly Smith, Boston's leading scorer (11), got her first chance of the match in the 89th minute when LePeilbet sent her a long ball. Smith's left-footed shot from 20 yards out just whizzed over the crossbar.

Extra Time

In the seventh minute of extra time, Henderson came off her line to keep Cheney from getting a head on a Cox free kick. Cox targeted Cheney from 40 yards out and just before the Breakers' lone scorer got a head on it, Henderson was able to punch it to safety.

Philadelphia had a great build-up from the back, led by Lori Lindsey in the 11th minute. Lindsey fed DiMartino on the right flank, who crossed it to Adams, but her touch went high of the target.

Moments later in the 13th minute, DiMartino and Adams hooked up, and this time it counted. DiMartino sent a lofted ball to the back post and Adams ran onto it and hit it in -- possibly with her hand -- from just off the goal line. Replays didn't show conclusively whether Adams did in fact hit it with her hand.

Boston's best, and final, chance of extra time came in the 23rd minute of the 30-minute session. First, Cheney had a chance from inside the penalty spot, but her chance was deflected out. Adams collected the loose ball, but Kacey Moore stripped her and shot one that hit the crossbar. Alex Scott got the rebound, but miss-hit the ball and Philadelphia finally cleared it.

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