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Sky Blue FC Eliminate Freedom

August 15, 2009 - Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) - magicJack News Release

BOYDS, Md. (August 15, 2009)-Goals from substitutes Natasha Kai in the 55th minute and Francielle in the 84th minute cancelled out a Lisa De Vanna strike in the 78th minute as fourth-seeded Sky Blue FC (8-8-5) moved on to the WPS Super Semifinal with a 2-1 win over the third-seeded Washington Freedom (8-8-5) at the Maryland SoccerPlex on a hot Saturday afternoon.

Twenty-three minutes after entering the game, Francielle's low shot from 20 yards out beat Freedom goalkeeper Erin McLeod to her left, and it proved to be the difference in the first-ever Women's Professional Soccer playoff game.

It was her first goal of the season in just her second appearance.

De Vanna tied the game on a rebound six minutes earlier. An early ball was played in from the left side; Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jenni Branam came off her line, got a piece of the ball and collided with Freedom forward Abby Wambach. De Vanna buried the loose ball from seven yards out.

Kai, who took five shots in just 36 minutes of action, opened the scoring just a minute after subbing on for Kerri Hanks.

After McLeod saved an initial shot, Kacey White played a square ball to the U.S. international, who finished into the empty net.

Sky Blue FC nearly doubled their lead-and Kai her goal-scoring tally-ten minutes later when a shot from the left wing hit the far post.

Washington didn't manage their first shot on goal until the 65th minute, when Branam easily caught a Wambach effort from outside; three minutes later, Ali Krieger rang the crossbar with a hard shot from the right fringe of the 18-yard box.

"Our movement off the ball was a bit slow, but we've played 21 games. It's a long season sometimes. You can't do anything about it; you just have to try and pull through," said De Vanna.

Temperatures were above 90 degrees at kickoff, but the Australian international refused to blame the conditions for the loss.

"It's soccer, it's all in the head. Whether it's rainy, it's hot, cold, freezing, you push through because you're a professional."

Washington was without WPS All-Star Sonia Bompastor, who Freedom head coach Jim Gabarra called "our security blanket" after the game.

Bompastor is on duty with France at the European Championships.

With the win, Sky Blue FC advances to play St. Louis Athletica on Wednesday, August 19. Kickoff from Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park is set for 7 p.m.

The winner will travel to face the Los Angeles Sol on Saturday, August 22, at 4 p.m. for the inaugural WPS title.

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