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Sports Then and Now

Western New York Flash Dominate Before a Record Crowd

Posted on May 23, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

The Flash stayed undefeated with their win over the magicJack.

The stars were back in action in Women’s Professional Soccer this weekend after being gone on international duty last weekend, setting the stage for a titanic matchup and a warm homecoming for mJ’s Abby Wambach¬† in Western New York.

As Florida’s magicJack took the pitch against the home side, Western New York Flash, the leagues two remaining undefeated clubs faced off before an all-time league record attendance for a single game.

After averaging well below 2,000 for their first three home matches, the return of Rochester native Abby Wambach with the visiting team helped boost the crowd. Wambach has her own fan base in the area and drew rousing applause at introduction, as well as some intermittent chanting of her name throughout the match, but it was also obvious that the large crowd was there for their own team as well.

The Flash broke their own record for scoring early, with Becky Edwards netting a beautiful goal on a second rebound after Marta and Christine Sinclair both had shots rejected. When mJ keeper Hope Solo batted away the second shot, by Sinclair, it put her out of position to complete the trifecta when Edwards toe-popped the ball into the left corner.

Christine Seger scored the club’s second goal 40 minutes later after successfully convincing Solo to reach right, then sending a ground shot to the keeper’s far right (the left corner of the goal).

magicJack’s Ella Masar was able to break through the WNY defense for a few decent shots but Flash keeper Ashlyn Harris played a career best, keeping a clean sheet for the second time this season. Although it was her second shut-out, it was the first time Harris had been seriously challenged.

The Flash tallied their third score late in the contest when Marta was taken down in the penalty box. The Brazilian international left the field with a bad limp but returned moments later appearing unfazed. In the meantime, Swedish international Seger got her second goal of the game by taking the PK.

magicJack played a typically physical, some might say dirty, game for which they were well know in previous seasons as the Washington Freedom.  The officials were mostly oblivious to routine muggings that occurred as Marta advanced, and while there were at least a handful of egregious off-sides violatioins by magicJack that were not called, several off-sides were called against WNY that were clearly erroneous.

Despite the officiating, the WNY Flash removed any lingering doubt about their status atop WPS and as the world’s best women’s soccer club.

After watching this team play with and without their headliners (e.g. last week getting big performances from role-players, such as Player of the Week McCall Zerboni) it is hard to imagine a scenario by which this team ever loses, except perhaps overconfidence down the stretch.

If Coach Aran Lines can keep his players focused until the end, they will be completely untouchable. And if he is able to achieve that, the world will know that while he may be the owner’s son in law and the team president’s spouse, he can carry his own water with this team and deserves to be listed among the world’s best.

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