Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) celebrated the culmination of its third season at the WPS Championship presented by Citi when the Western New York Flash capped their inaugural season in WPS by capturing the 2011 WPS Championship title 1-1 (5-4) in a penalty kick shootout in front of the largest championship crowd in league history.
With a 13-2-3 regular season record, the Flash earned the regular season title and the right to host the WPS Championship presented by Citi. Philadelphia finished second in the regular season with an 11-4-3 record, and won their way through the Super Semifinal, 2-0 over magicJack, to advance to a second consecutive WPS Championship match.
The highly anticipated clash of the WPS’ top teams didn’t disappoint. The teams exchanged opportunities but played to a scoreless tie through the first 45. Christine Sinclair would lead the charge in the second half for the Flash, putting away a left footed shot past Philadelphia goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart in the 62nd minute. The one-goal advantage would last 24 minutes before a resilient Philadelphia team was able to strike back in dramatic fashion, as Amy Rodriguez followed up a shot from Danesha Adams that had ricocheted off the post, driving the ball into the back of the net for the equalizer, just two minutes before time expired.
Despite going down a player in the 108th minute of the game when Beverly Goebel was issued a second yellow and ejected from the match, the Flash battled on. Neither team could break the 1-1 tie, and after the two extra time periods the WPS Champion would be decided by a penalty kick shootout. The Flash who shot first sent Marta, Sinclair, McCall Zerboni, Caroline Seger and Yael Averbuch to the mark and all five converted. The Philadelphia Independence saw Lianne Sanderson, Adams, Leigh Ann Robinson, Veronica Boquete convert their first four shots and with the Championship title on the line sent Laura del Rio to the mark to take the team’s fifth shot. U.S. Coast Guard Goalkeeper of the Year Ashlyn Harris (WNY Flash) came up big, blocking the shot of Philly’s Laura del Rio, clinching the Championship for her Western New York Flash. Saturday’s match marked the first WPS Championship winner decided by a penalty kick shootout.
The Flash’s power striker Christine Sinclair was honored as the WPS Championship MVP for her outstanding performance in the game that included her third career goal in a WPS Championship match, the most of any WPS player. Sinclair becomes one of seven players on the Flash to repeat as Champions, after capturing the title in 2010 as teammates on FC Gold Pride.
The 10,461 fans that packed the stands at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, NY set a new WPS high for Championship attendance, surpassing the inaugural championship which drew 7,218. The Flash set the bar in attendance in WPS in 2011, drawing an average of 4,881 fans per game, third highest regular season average in WPS history. The Flash also set a new all-time WPS record when 15,404 fans attended the Flash game on July 20.
(WPS Press Release)
Western New York Flash 1-1,5-4 Philadelphia Independence (on penalties)
1-0 Christine Sinclair (62′), 1-1 Amy Rodriguez (86′)
1-0 Marta (Goal)
1-1 Lianne Sanderson (Goal)
2-1 Christine Sinclair (Goal)
2-2 Danesha Adams (Goal)
3-2 McCall Zerboni (Goal)
3-3 Leigh Ann Robinson (Goal)
4-3 Caroline Seger (Goal)
4-4 Veronica Boquete (Goal)
5-4 Yael Averbuch (Goal)
5-4 Laura del Rio (Save)
Western New York Flash
24-Ashlyn Harris; 3-Ali Riley, 5-Candace Chapman, 23-Whitney Engen, 38-Rebecca Moros; 9-Caroline Seger, 14-Becky Edwards (76′ 19-Beverly Goebel), 21-Brittany Bock (104′ 18-Yael Averbuch); 10-Marta, 12-Christine Sinclair, 13-Alex Morgan (106′ 7-McCall Zerboni)
0-Brittany Cameron, 6-Gina Lewandowski, 8-Kandace Wilson, 16-Gemma Davison
23-Nicole Barnhart; 7-Leigh Ann Robinson, 15-Nikki Krzysik, 16-Kia McNeill, 24-Estelle Johnson; 4-Jen Buczkowski (84′ 10-Lianne Sanderson), 25-Tina DiMartino (78′ 13-Laura del Rio), 14-Sinead Farrelly; 21-Veronica Boquete, 0-Tasha Kai (73′ 9-Danesha Adams), 8-Amy Rodriguez
1-Val Henderson, 6-Lori Lindsey, 17-Joanna Lohman, 20-Gina DiMartino