New York tops Philadelphia on PKs in WPS final
Rochester, NY (Sports Network) - Ashlyn Harris saved Laura Del Rio's penalty in the fifth round of a shootout, and the Western New York Flash claimed the Women's Professional Soccer title, 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 tie Saturday at Sahlen Stadium.
Harris nearly pulled off another save in the third round of the shootout, but despite getting in front of Leigh Ann Robinson's shot, the ball bounced on the line and spun into the goal.
But in the fifth round, after the teams combined to make the first nine shots, Harris dove to her left to deny Del Rio's attempt at the post and hand Western New York the title in its first season in the league.
Christine Sinclair put New York in front in the 64th minute, but Amy Rodriguez scored with three minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Philadelphia goalie Nicole Barnhart made a huge one-handed save in the closing seconds of overtime, then got her hand on Marta's first attempt in the penalty shootout, but failed to deny the five-time world player of the year.
New York lost two of the three regular-season meetings against Philadelphia as it lost its only home match to the Independence, but Sinclair, McCall Zerboni, Caroline Seger and Yael Averbuch converted penalties to earn some revenge.
Philadelphia lost the WPS final for the second straight season. It lost to FC Gold Pride, which is no longer in the league, and Marta last season.
The highlight of the opening half was a squirrel that ran on the field, then remained inside the 18-yard box and spun around in circles for a few minutes. A few players tried to scare the squirrel off the pitch, but eventually it was taken off under a box that was dragged to the sideline.
Philadelphia's Tashi Kai had the top chance for either side in the first half, but was unable to get any power on a chance from the left side of the area and New York goalie Harris made an easy save at the left post.
The Independence had another great scoring opportunity early after half, but a breakaway from Rodriguez ended without a shot on goal. She tried to dribble to the side of Harris, but a poor touch allowed New York's defense to recover.
Sinclair floated a shot over the bar from a hard angle in the 63rd as New York created its first true chance and the Canadian international followed with the first goal of the match in the 64th.
Candace Chapman, who also plays for Canada, played a long ball out of the back to Sinclair, who ran onto the pass and let the ball take a small bounce before drilling a half-volley past Barnhart.
New York held the lead into the closing minutes, but Rodriguez made up for her early mistake with the tying goal in the 87th. Danesha Adams helped set up the goal with a shot off the right post, and Rodriguez slipped the rebound through Harris' legs from a tight angle on the right.
Beverly Goebel nearly scored the winning goal in the final minutes of regular time, but she turned Marta's cross off the bar from just a couple yards out as the match went to extra time.
Neither side created any good shots throughout most of the two 15-minute extra sessions, but New York, which had Goebel sent off early in the second session, came inches away from winning the match when Caroline Seger's header was saved the post Barnhart, who dove just to get her fingertips on the ball.
Then it was Harris who came up with the big save in the shootout.
08/27 19:21:23 ET