Women’s Professional Soccer Recap: Week 3

FC Gold Pride and Sky Blue FC take over share of first.
If there’s one thing that you can take away from the weekend that was in the WPS, it’s that any team is capable of winning each week, no matter where they are playing.

FC Gold Pride coach Albertin Montoya expresses this sentiment week in and week out. And after his Pride eked out a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Beat at home on Saturday night, he said it again: “Three points goes a long ways and any given team can win.”

Why was Montoya reiterating these thoughts after his team’s second consecutive win? Mainly because the Beat outplayed Gold Pride on the Pride’s home field at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium for the majority of the game. Carrie Dew saved her club with a goal in the 88th minute, putting her head to a loose ball in the box, beating former Pride keeper Allison Whitworth.

“I saw the ball up in the air and I had a clear shot at it,” Dew said. “I just wanted to put it on frame and luckily I did.”

Tiffeny Milbrett put the Pride up 1-0 in the 10th minute on a quick counter-attack play. Kelley O’Hara centered the ball from her right wing to Camille Abily; Abily sent a through ball to Milbrett who put home the game’s first goal.

“It’s always nice to get minutes in there and to do your job for the team and that’s putting the ball in the back of the net,” said Milbrett. “Nothing gives you a greater sense of satisfaction.”

Atlanta tied it up in the 25th minute when Monica Ocampo split the Pride defense before sliding a shot past Nicole Barnhart.

Atlanta also played most the game without Tobin Heath, who suffered a right ankle injury in the 18th minute and had to come off the pitch. Her status is unknown.

Gold Pride upped its record to 2-1 on the season, putting them atop the WPS table with six points at Week 3’s end. Atlanta remains in search of its first WPS win, falling to 0-2-1, and in last place with one point.

Boston Breakers 1 @ St. Louis Athletica 1

In the WPS game of the week, both the Breakers and Athletica lived up to the billing, playing a tightly-contested match the entire 90 minutes on a puddle-cluttered pitch at The Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, Missouri.

Boston got on the board first, corralling a Kristine Lilly corner just outside the 18-yard box before burying it past Hope Solo in the 22nd minute.

It only took St. Louis six minutes to even the game. Aya Miyama sent a free kick in the box that was headed by Tina Ellertson off line. Carolyn Blank was in the right place for St. Louis, and directed the ball on the right path with her upper body, and it trickled into the net.

“Honestly, right place, right time,” said Blank about her first professional goal. “I just remember it bouncing around and being one of those chances where you try to get your body on it and get it in.”

Athletica and Boston both remained unbeaten on the young season, both going to 1-0-2, and sitting second in the WPS with five points.

“You never like to drop points at home,” said Athletica captain Lori Chalupny. “But this was a good effort and a good point.”

Washington Freedom 1 @ Philadelphia Independence 3

Philadelphia may be an expansion team, but it is loaded with a veteran-laden roster. Those vets notched their first victory as members of the Independence, beating the up-and-down Freedom, 3-1, at John A. Farrell Stadium in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“It felt just fantastic to get the first win under our belts and I really just felt the players earned it tonight,” said Independence coach Paul Riley. “Lori Lindsey captained the team really well, and to be fair I thought everyone on the team stepped up and played fantastic.”

After a scoreless first half, the Freedom got the scoring started in the 51st minute, when Lisa de Vanna took an Abby Wambach pass and drilled it home for a 1-0 lead.

But after that, it was all Independence. It only took three minutes for Philadelphia to erase Washington’s lead. Amy Rodriguez lined up her shot from 35 yards out and buried it into the upper-90, just beyond the outstretched arms of Freedom keeper Meagan McCray for a 1-1 game.

"After Philly's first goal they gained a lot of confidence and were able to just build off that," said Freedom coach Jim Gabarra. "I am disappointed in the 20 minutes that we stopped competing. Against a team like Philadelphia, we need to keep fighting."

Gabarra had reason to be disappointed as Allison Falk gave the Independence its first lead three minutes after the Rodriguez goal, heading home a Lori Lindsey free kick, and 11 minutes later, Lindsey set up Lianne Sanderson, who headed it home for a 3-1 lead.

Philadelphia (1-0-2) appeared to take a 4-1 when Rodriguez got behind the defense and put it past McCray, but it was called back as the sideline official ruled her offside.

“I was surprised in Philadelphia's response going down a goal,” said Wambach. “They didn't quit, they came together and took advantage of our mistakes. It was impressive.”

Sky Blue FC 1 @ Chicago Red Stars 0

In the opening weekend of the 2010 season, the Chicago Red Stars went into New Jersey and outplayed Sky Blue FC but lost a 1-0 result. In the rematch of that contest, Sky Blue FC went into Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, and, behind another Tasha Kai goal, were able to win by that same 1-0 margin.

"We're not putting the ball in the back of the net,” said Red Stars coach Emma Hayes, “and that's important for me to address that in training to make sure we're finishing off our opportunities."

Chicago outplayed Sky Blue FC for the most part, who went in a defensive shell for most of the game because of heavy winds and rain at Toyota Park. However, Kai was able to take advantage of her opportunity which is all Sky Blue FC needed to move to 2-1 on the season.

"For us to go on the road, fight through the elements and take the victory says a lot about our character,” said Sky Blue FC coach Pauliina Miettinen. “This is a win that will certainly build the confidence of our team."

Kacey White found a streaking Kai, who slipped in behind the defense for a breakaway, forcing Red Stars keeper Jillian Loyden to race off her line and challenge the oncoming striker. Once Kai became aware of the committed efforts of Loyden, she simply lofted the ball over her and in the net for the 1-0 lead.

"I didn't expect their goal; it kind of came out of nothing,” said Red Stars midfielder Karen Carney. “I thought we were in control of the game and we were doing really well and then we get sucker punched."

Looking ahead

Next week will have another battle for first place as Sky Blue FC (2-1) hosts FC Gold Pride (2-1) in a rematch from week two, when the Pride handled the defending champions rather easily, 3-1, in Castro Valley, California.

Meanwhile, in the other action, Chicago (0-2-1) looks to break into the win column in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when they take on the Boston Breaker (1-0-2); Atlanta (0-2-1) also looks for its first win, heading to West Chester, Pennsylvania, for a rematch from week one against the Independence (1-0-2); and Washington (1-2) looks to right its ship, hosting St. Louis (1-0-2) at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. All four games kickoff on Saturday night at 6 p.m. ET.

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