Flash win finale, clinch home playoff game
Updated: Sunday, August 18 2013, 01:15 AM EDT
Rochester, N.Y. (Saturday, August 17, 2013) – The Western New York Flash (10-4-8, 38 points) picked up a pivotal 2-1 victory over the Boston Breakers (8-8-6, 30 points) on Saturday night, three points that were necessary for the Flash’s bid to host a playoff game. With the win in front of 6,311 fans, the Flash have all but secured a semifinal game at Sahlen’s Stadium, barring the results of Saturday night’s Portland/Seattle game. Even with a Portland win, the Flash own the tiebreaker on goal differential. The Thorns will have to erase a 10-goal deficit to beat out the Flash.
The game was also Project Pink night for the Flash, as the team wore their pink third jerseys. In addition, WNY raffled off all game-worn kits and nearly 50 gift baskets to raise money for the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. At the end of the night, the team generated nearly $13,000 for the BCCR.
Samantha Kerr put her team up 1-0 in the 23rd minute with a well-timed run behind the Breakers’ defense. Abby Wambach aided the Australian with a lofty header flick that allowed enough time to hold up the Boston line. Kerr then collected the ball and sent a hard strike to the right side for her sixth goal of the season.
Minutes later, Wambach brought her season goal total to 11 and put the Flash up by two. Wambach was able to get her head on a low, driven Brittany Taylor free kick sending the ball back to the near post and in.
The Flash and Breakers were even with nine shots each in the first half, but six went on goal for Western New York compared to three from Boston.
Defender Katherine Reynolds nearly picked up her first goal of the year in the eighth minute when she connected on a cross from Wambach. The header attempt got past Naeher, but Julie King was ready on the goal line and used her head to keep the game scoreless. King’s clear went out to Carli Lloyd who was able to get a shot off, but the Boston goalkeeper was able to make the save.
Midway through the first half, Adriana Martin had a strong strike on the set piece, nearly capitalizing after Wambach was fouled. However, her shot from 30-yards out went just high of the crossbar.
Lloyd next disposed Kyah Simon near the midfield line and brought the ball all the way across the top of the 18 without pressure. After Wambach ran a crossing pattern to clear some room, Lloyd unleashed but her shot hit the upper 90 and deflected out.
Sarah Huffman denied a late Boston chance in the waning minutes of the first half when she cleared away a shot right on the goal line to take her team into the locker room up 2-0.
The Breakers nearly got on the board three minutes into the second half with Sydney Leroux generating a chance. The forward sprinted down the field and into the penalty area but Adrianna Franch was able to block the shot away.
Kerr and Wambach almost combined for a second time at the 52-minute mark, with Wambach sending a no-look pass to the left side. Kerr, however, looked to lay it off for Adriana but the pass was too far ahead of the Spanish international.
Boston responded by ending the Flash’s bid for a sixth-straight home shutout when Rhian Wilkinson scored in the 54th minute. Off a corner, Wilkinson was able to find the ball on the goal line and took a first attempt that was blocked by Angela Salem. However, the rebound was favorable to the attacker and she roofed it into the net.
It was the first goal allowed by the Flash defense since June 23rd, a span of 576 shutout minutes.
In the 64th minute, Kerr again got behind the Boston line and was dragged down inside the box, earning a penalty kick for the Flash. Wambach stepped to the 12-yard mark and tried to fool Naeher with an offspeed shot, but the keeper was able to adjust to the ball and make the save.
Kerr appeared to add her second goal of the game with another well-timed run of a Wambach pass, but the sideline official raised the flag just before the ball hit the back of the net.
After the Flash came back for two late ties in their last meetings with Boston, the Breakers almost did the same when Lianne Sanderson rocketed a shot off the bar in the 90th minute. After a handball was called just outside the Western New York penalty area, Sanderson hit the stanchion before Franch smothered the rebound attempt to seal the victory.
Naeher finished the game with seven saves, while Franch blocked six away. The Flash owned a small advantage in shots at 15-14, while Wambach led the game with five shots.