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Pride remains in first place after 1-1 tie with Freedom

June 6, 2010 - Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) - FC Gold Pride News Release

The top two teams in WPS matched up for a great game June 5th at 7PM to battle for first. FC Gold Pride (5-2-1) remains undefeated at home, making their home record 4-0-1 with tonight's 1-1 tie with the Washington Freedom (4-2-2). This tie ended the Freedom's four game winning streak, and kept the Pride in first in the league.

With FC Gold Pride forwards Marta and Christine Sinclair and Abby Wambach of the Washington Freedom in a five-way tie for second most goals in the league and both teams leading the WPS in goals scored per game, one would have expected the match to be high scoring. And there were plenty of opportunities in both halves, but the Pride's offense really came out hard in the second half. The 1-1 score does not reflect the Pride's possession throughout, and its impressive combinations in the second half. Throughout the game, the Pride outshot the Freedom with 18 to the Freedom's 10.

"I'm not entirely disappointed [in the tie]," Marta said. "These are the two best teams in the league going at it, and we created a lot of chances to score."

The first half ended with the Freedom leading 1-0 with Allie Long's goal for the Freedom in the 38th minute. The Pride dominated the half, maintaining possession of the ball in the midfield, and directing play through their back line. The Freedom was able to turn up the intensity at the end of the first half, and put one in the net. The Pride ended the half with 8 corners, several of which were headed by Shannon Boxx, but none found the back of the net. The Freedom only had two clear shots on goal, but was successful in finishing. Defender Ali Riley had several runs up the left side finding midfielder Becky Edwards and forward Christine Sinclair creating chances for attack down the left side. The four in the back line Riley, Wilson, Buehler, and Chapman anticipated through balls, making it possible for the Pride to regain possession and get opportunities going forward.

The Pride's offense stepped up in the second half and succeeded in taking many powerful shots on frame. They had 14 shots in the second half compared to their four in the first. Kelley O'Hara and Marta both had several driven shots in the second half. The defense continued to stay strong, and shut down the Freedom's forwards as well as distribute the ball to the midfield and forwards. Marta had several breakaways where her explosive speed and her skill to hold the ball in tight spaces were displayed. In the 57th minute Boxx got on the end of yet another corner, but unfortunately none of her headers were successful. Recently acquired June 1st, Boxx's play was just an example of what she can bring to the table with the Pride. She directed the midfield well, and once she adapts to every player's style of play, she will be able to read those headers even better, and get them into the back of the net.

"She's been a great leader on the field for us. One of her first touches was almost a goal," said head coach Albertin Montoya.

On playing with the Pride, Boxx said, "The players around you make you a better player, and this is the opportunity for me to become better as an individual."

Saturday's tie completed the Pride's temporary stay at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium, and the remainder of their home games will be played at Pioneer Stadium of California State University, East Bay. The players look forward to the newly renovated field's extra width, which will play to their strengths and give them even more room to possess the ball. The first game at the new stadium will be played June 19 against the Boston Breakers.

Next Sunday the 13th, FC Gold Pride will head off to Pennsylvania to play Philadelphia Independence. Philadelphia is third in the league with a 3-2-2 record. Sara Larson and Allison Falk are two strong Pennsylvania defenders that the Pride must contend with.

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