Once again, the Philadelphia Independence will finish one win short of a championship.And this one will hurt even more.Playing in their second straight Womens Professional Soccer title game, the Independence lost in penalty kicks to the Western New York Flash in front of 10,461 fans at Rochesters Saliens Stadium on Saturday.A year ago their first in the league the Independence were routed by FC Gold Pride by four goals in the championship, but this years title game featured for more drama.After trading goals in regulation and failing to score through a pair of 15-minute overtime sessions, the Independence and the Flash went to penalty kicks to decide which team would be crowned champion of the biggest womens soccer league in the world.After the first four players on each team all scored, it came down to the fifth kicker. Yael Averbuch scored for WNY but Flash goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris stopped Laura del Rios PK attempt, giving Western New York the title in front of their home fans.As with many other Independence games head coach Paul Riley likes to call his team the Cardiac Kids there was high drama throughout Saturdays game, especially at the end of regulation. Trailing 1-0 with just a few minutes remaining, Independence star forward Amy Rodriguez came to the rescue, scoring her third goal in as many games. The game-tying tally came on a rebound after sub Danesha Adams hit the post. The Flash nearly came right back and scored the winner in the 90th minute but second-half substitute Beverly Goebel hit the crossbar after receiving a cross from Brazilian superstar Marta. Goebel later was shown her second yellow card and the door, which put the Flash down a player for much of overtime.Still, despite both teams stretching the field and attacking with purpose, neither could score in OT, with Rodriguez missing at least three great opportunities and Independence goalie Nicole Barnhart saving the day with a sprawling, one-handed save in the final minutes. The game was quiet for much of the first half, and it wasnt until the 64th minute when the first goal came. Western New York struck first when, after an Independence turnover in the midfield, Flash defender Candace Chapman chipped a through pass to Christine Sinclair, who buried into the back of the net. It was Sinclairs 11th goal of the year.Ten minutes earlier, the Independence had a golden opportunity to break the scoreless deadlock when Rodriguez was sprung free on a breakaway. But Rodriguez took too hard of a touch to get around Harris and couldnt get a shot off, passing it instead to Tasha Kai, who shot wide.Kai had another good chance to score midway through the first half after league MVP Veronica Boquette made a great cutback and pass across the box, but Kai didnt get a good foot on her shot on the net.Earlier in the contest, Kai took a nasty elbow to the face from Western New Yorks Brittany Bock. After staying on the ground for a lengthy amount of time, the Independences leading scorer returned to the game, before finally limping off in the 73rd minute.Aside from Sinclairs goal and the Flashs late-game pressure, Phillys sturdy backline did an excellent job of shutting down Western New Yorks high-powered attack of Sinclair, Alex Morgan and three-time WPS Golden Boot winner Marta. Marta and Sinclair were among the players who won a championship for now-defunct FC Gold Pride last season, also beating the Independence in the finals. Another was local product Becky Edwards, a former two-sport start at Downingtown West High School, who started for the Flash in the midfield Saturday and was effective in the offensive third.Email Dave Zeitlin at email@example.com.
Independence's season ends in title game loss
August 27, 2011, 11:48 pm