Buffalo, NY-(July 27, 2012) The Western New York Flash of the Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite (WPSL) came from behind to defeat the Chicago Red Stars in penalty kicks in the Championship game on July 27 at Sahlen’s Stadium to claim its third straight title.
The game started out very physical with both sides sharing possession. Injuries plagued both sides as Flash striker Omolyn Davis came out of the game in the 19th minute just after Spanish International Adriana crossed a ball and Davis was unable to get her header on frame. The Red Stars would also lose key players, as Captain Lori Chalupny sprained her ankle and Ella Masar pulled her hamstring at the same time. The Red Stars would strike first in the 40th minute off one of Chicago's dangerous flip throws . WNY Flash keeper Brittany Cameron lost hold of the ball and Chicago’s Ashleigh Ellenwood pounced on the ball inside the six yard box and passed the ball in the net to give the Red Stars a 1-0 lead.
The Flash came out in the second half pushing numbers forward and sending balls into the box but were unable to convert. The Flash were then hit with another blow as US U-23 National Team player Stephanie Ochs collided with a Red Stars defender and had to leave the match in just the 63rd minute. Flash goalkeeper Cameron kept the Flash in the game with some huge saves as the Flash left only 2 defenders back to try and equalize. Due to Ochs' injury, the referees added 6 minutes of stoppage time to the game. In the dying moments of stoppage time, substitute Toni Pressley received a pass from Canadian International Jodi-Ann Robinson and struck a left footed shot from outside of the box. The ball hit the crossbar and went over the line to send the game into overtime.
“I focused on getting the shot off,” Pressley said. “I didn’t think it went in at first.
Throughout the two over time halves, the WNY Flash had good possession but was unable to capitalize.
Heading into penalty kicks, the Flash's first shooter was Adriana, the leading scorer in the WPSL Elite. Adriana, who had taken several penalty kicks for the Flash this season. Adriana easily scored, sending Chicago’s keeper Forbes in the wrong direction. Lauren Fowlkes would equalize for Chicago scoring on Cameron. Defender Katherine Reynolds was up next for the WNY Flash and slotted the ball past Forbes. Julianne Sitch lined up next to shoot for Chicago and Cameron was able to make the save.
“All I was thinking was, ‘Save one,’” Cameron said.
Captain McCall Zerboni would take her kick next, which was saved by Forbes. The Chicago keeper would then take a penalty herself, scoring to tie things up at two each. Australian international Emily Van Egmond was the fourth taker for the Flash, scoring to give the Flash a lead. Chicago’s Michelle Wenino missed, hitting the post. Midfielder Angela Salem stepped up and scored her penalty, giving the Flash the victory (4:2) and the WPSL Elite title. Defender Nikki Marshall was named MVP of the game.
This championship marked the third straight title for the WNY Flash, who took the W-League title in 2010 and the WPS title last year. The Flash had a young squad this season, with only 4 returning players from the WPS Championship Team.
Coach Aaran Lines said that one of the more difficult tasks with his young players is to “make them believe that they are good enough to win.” Lines said the team this season was “tremendous.”
“Nothing’s easy,” Cameron said, “We didn’t stop trying until that final whistle.”