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Western New York Flash Claim the WPS Championship 0

Posted on August 28, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

The Western New York Flash completed their first season with a league championship.

What we’ve been taking liberties to say about the Western New York Flash of Women’s Professional Soccer, we can now say with authority. We have, here in Buffalo, Rochester and Western New York, the absolute world’s best women’s club soccer team.

The Flash defeated last year’s runner up, the Philadelphia Independence, on penalty kicks after finishing regulation and two overtime periods tied at 1-1. It was a hard fought match.

Independence Coach Paul Riley showed why he won the league’s Coach of the Year award two consecutive years. Philadelphia, outgunned in the individual talent department, stayed in the match by out coaching the home team and regular season champions.

There was only one shot each in the first half, which was played almost entirely in the midfield. Throughout most of the match Philly was successful in disrupting Flash passing, especially in the offensive third of the pitch.

Things opened up midway through the second half with each club getting an occasional shot. As time went on the Flash finally began to break through with their typical attack of long passes to their speedy forwards , and after some near misses by Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan, Marta hit Sinclair deep in Philadelphia territory in the 61st minute with a long high-arching pass which Sinclair pounded into the right side of the net from twenty yards out. Read the rest of this entry →

World Cup Afterglow In Western New York: a Lot of Flash, a Little Magic, and a Big Heroes Welcome 22

Posted on July 21, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Abby Wambach got a heroes welcome during her return to Rochester.

The Women’s World Cup momentum swept like a tsunami through Western New York just three days following the emotionally draining, ultimately disappointing US defeat in the finals, by Cinderella Japan.

With the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) match between the home team, Western New York Flash, and magicJack SC, half of the league’s 35 World Cup representatives, including six from the U.S., were represented in one arena. And the crowds came out to pay homage.

In a ceremony just prior to the game, Rochester native Abby Wambach–America’s newest national symbol– received the keys to the city of Rochester from the Mayor. At half time the Monroe County Executive added to the praise, with a proclamation of Abby Wambach Day.

While Wambach didn’t play, she did address the crowd at half-time with an emotional, triumphant speech, and promised a gold medal for the U.S. in next year’s London Olympics.

Although World Cup fever was largely responsible for the record crowd of 15,400, it was still an unprecedented crowd for women’s club soccer. Extra bleachers were brought in to the open end of the park, and standing room tickets were also sold. It was not only the largest crowd in the history of WPS, it was a record for the venue as well, bulging with 1,400 more than the listed capacity.

It was obvious the crowd came to honor the local hero, to celebrate with Wambach’s magicJack cohorts from Team USA such as Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Shannon Boxx, and to cheer for the Flash’s own US hero, Alex Morgan, as well as the Flash’s international stars: Marta, Canadian captian Christine Sinclair, and Swedish star, Caroline Seger. But it can also be hoped that it wasn’t just that, that it was also the beginning of a new love affair with women’s soccer, and with a local team that has played in relative obscurity, despite the fact that they could very well be the world’s best women’s club side.   Read the rest of this entry →

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