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Independence Defeats Freedom in Overtime to Advance to WPS Super Semifinal

September 19, 2010 - Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) - Philadelphia Independence News Release


(West Chester, PA)--The Philadelphia Independence and Washington Freedom met today in the First Round of WPS Playoffs at Farrell Stadium and the Independence triumphed 1-0 in overtime to advance to the WPS Super Semifinal. The teams played for a full 120 minutes before Amy Rodriguez scored the game-winning goal for Philadelphia to eliminate the Freedom and send Philadelphia through to the next round.

Neither team started particularly strong, with both sides defending well but struggling to keep possession. The Freedom had the first chance on goal in the third minute off a headed corner by Abby Wambach, but the attempt went just wide. Despite the Freedom controlling most of the play in the first half, the Independence defense did not allow many opportunities on goal and Val Henderson did not have to come up any saves.

Abby Wambach was a dangerous presence for the Freedom throughout the game, but the Independence defense managed to keep her contained for the first 45 minutes and prevent any real opportunities. "I thought our back four was outstanding" said Head Coach Paul Riley. "Val was strong in net, and Jen Buczkowski cleans up everything in front of our defense. They did a good job keeping Abby at bay, which was extremely important in tonight's win."

On the flip side, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris had four big saves for the Freedom in the first half, stopping a breakaway from Magnusdottir in the 16th minute, blocking an open opportunity from ten yards out by Lianne Sanderson in the 25th minute, and another chance by Rodriguez from point-blank range in the 27th.

Both teams ended the half scoreless and the intensity increased immediately with the start of the second period. The momentum shifted in favor of the Independence quickly, and Philadelphia should have put the ball in the back of the net on numerous occasions. Just five minutes into the half, Magnsudottir sent a slicing cross into the box and earned a corner for the Independence that captain Lori Lindsey stepped up to take. Her cross ricocheted around the box and nearly into the net, but the Freedom's Bompastor cleared the ball off the goal line.

In the 56th minute, Tina DiMartino got in behind the Freedom defense and laid a ball back to an open Rodriguez just six yards out, but Ashlyn Harris made yet another massive save for Washington to keep the game scoreless. DiMartino freed Rodriguez again with a lofted ball over the top just one minute later, and Rodriguez capitalized on the opportunity by burying the ball low, but the goal was disallowed by the referee for a handball. The combo connected one more time in the 62nd, but Rodriguez nailed the pass from DiMartino over the bar.

The Freedom got their first real opportunity in the 65th minute when Abby Wambach intercepted a pass out of the back and connected with second-half substituted Lene Mykjaland to get a sliding chance on net, but Val Henderson stifled the effort. The pair struck again in the 77th minute, but Mykjaland's shot sailed wide of the net.

The Independence had the better of the chances in the closing minutes and should have put the game away on several occasions. Lori Lindsey nailed a shot from 25 yards out that required an unbelievably athletic one-handed save from Harris and another kick-save on the rebounded shot by Rodriguez. Second half substitute Danesha Adams provided a spark for the Independence offense and nearly put a goal away in the 81st minute when she beat the Freedom center backs and ripped a shot just wide of the goal. Rodriguez hit the post in the 88th minute, and Tina DiMartino sent a shot over the bar from just five yards out in the 90th minute.

The game of near chances finally ended after ninety minutes of regulation play and thirty minutes overtime when Amy Rodriguez buried a shot near post past Ashyln Harris. Tina DiMartino played a pass through to the left side that Rodriguez ran onto, turning her defender and nailing the ball upper ninety to put the Independence up by one in the closing seconds of play. The 120th minute goal prevented the game from going into a penalty kick shootout and earned the Independence a First-Round WPS Playoff Victory.

"I was SO happy when I finally scored" said forward Amy Rodriguez. "We had so many chances that didn't go our way...I felt like I was cursed! But, Paul told us to keep shooting, keep putting the ball on goal and we'd get one, and it finally happened. Just in time!"

The Independence will advance to the WPS Super Semifinal and take on the Breakers in Boston this Thursday, September 23. "We're going on pure adrenaline at this point" said Coach Riley. "We'll practice tomorrow, work on recovering and preparing for Boston, and head up there to play them in a couple of days. We've never beat them before, but to be fair I think that they would have rather faced the Freedom. We are back on track with the win and we need to keep the streak going."

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