FC Gold Pride defeat the Philadelphia Independence in the WPS Regular Season Finale
HAYWARD, CA - FC Gold Pride (16-3-5) hosted the Philadelphia Independence in the WPS Regular Season finale on Saturday night at Pioneer Stadium on the campus of California State University, East Bay in Hayward, CA. The Pride completed the regular season sweep of the third place Independence, turning in a dominant performance that ended with a 4-1 victory for the home team.
"I thought it was an excellent game for us," said Pride head coach Albertin Montoya. " I think it's important to be going into playoffs where we've played well against two excellent teams in this league. I thought we were dangerous all game long and played 90 minutes strong all the way through."
The postseason fate of both teams was sealed before the first half concluded, but that didn't stop the teams from putting their all into the match. Both sides came out firing as the first half proved to be an exciting one as the teams exchanged opportunities in front of the net. The WPS Regular Season Champions turned it on just before the close of the half as Pride forward Kelley O'Hara put away an unassisted goal in the 40th minute to put the Pride up 1-0. O'Hara's goal was a surprise to Val Henderson who was battling the sun, as O'Hara bent a left footed shot over the outstretched hand of Henderson to open the scoring for the Pride.
Less than a minute later, the Pride would strike again, this time by the 2010 Puma Golden Boot winner, Marta, who would net her league-leading 19th goal of the season. The four-time FIFA World Player of the Year tracked down a perfectly threaded through ball from O'Hara just to the right of the goal and would face up inside the 18-yard box, and fire off a shot that found the side netting near the far post. The Pride would take the 2-0 lead into half time.
The Bay Area team kept its momentum going coming out of half time, getting on the board again as Kelley O'Hara scored her second goal of the game. The Pride was set up with a great opportunity as Philadelphia defender Allison Falk took down Christine Sinclair just outside the 18-yard box. The Pride made the most of the opportunity as Marta bent a left-footed cross to the far post where O'Hara powered through a crowd of black and yellow jerseys and headed the ball into the back of the net. For O'Hara, this goal marked her sixth of the season and the first multi-goal game of her professional career.
Despite going down 3-0 to the league's top team, the Independence did not give up, immediately answering back with a goal by Lianne Sanderson in the 51st minute of play.
The game's star, O'Hara, would leave the match in the 55th minute with pain in her right quadriceps; she was given crutches as a precautionary measure, and will be reevaluated early next week by FC Gold Pride medical and training staff. Kiki Bosio would enter the game in O'Hara's place on the Pride's front line.
"It was bittersweet seeing her get hurt," said Montoya. "She was playing the best game she's played this season and after seeing her get those two goals you could see her confidence rise. She'll be going in for an MRI on Monday and we'll hope for the best because she's very important to our team, but this team has found a way all season long to play well with whoever we have out on the field."
The league's leading offense asserted itself as Marta linked up with Christine Sinclair in the 64th minute to put the Pride up 4-1. Marta who showed her skill on the ball dribbled the ball down to the end line while marked by two Independence defenders, she still managed to send a pass on the ground to the feet of Sinclair who was running at full speed to meet the ball and drill it into the back of the net from the top of the six yard box.
The league's stingiest defense received support late in the game as Rutgers standout Erin Guthrie, entered the game in the 80th minute, making her professional debut for the Pride in relief of the league's leading keeper, Nicole Barnhart. Niki Cross would also make her debut with the Pride entering the game in the 82nd minute at centerback in relief of one of the Bay Area's defensive anchors Candace Chapman.
For the WPS Regular Season Champions, the victory marks the team's 16th of the season and extends their WPS record unbeaten streak to 13 games.
The 2010 WPS Regular Season Champions will now prepare to host the WPS Championship presented by Citi match on Sunday, September 26. In an exciting final day of regular season competition, the final four teams were solidified in the playoffs. With a late goal in their Saturday evening match, Washington Freedom snatched up the fourth and final playoff spot joining the Philadelphia Independence, Boston Breakers and FC Gold Pride in the postseason. The Pride will keep a close eye on the playoff race as they await the winner of the Super Semifinal.
Tickets for the WPS Championship hosted by FC Gold Pride on Sunday, September 26 at Pioneer Stadium on the campus of California State University, East Bay are now on sale. For more information or to reserve tickets call 888-541-3511 or visit FCGoldPride.com.
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Women's Professional Soccer Stories from September 11, 2010
- FC Gold Pride defeat the Philadelphia Independence in the WPS Regular Season Finale - FC Gold Pride
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- Beat Dominate Final 2010 Match, But Fall 1-0 To Freedom - Atlanta Beat
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