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WPSL Elite League Week 7 recap; season passes the half-way mark

The seventh week of action in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Elite League saw Boston Breakers made a move up the table to challenge the first-place Chicago Red Stars, as both teams put up a pair of wins on the week. Meanwhile, the Western New York Flash maintained their unbeaten streak with a win and draw, but slipped into a tie with Boston for second position. With their draw against Flash, New England Mutiny pulled one point closer to New York Fury, who lost to Boston, for the fourth playoff spot.

Boston Breakers 4, New England Mutiny 2

Wednesday, June 20: The week opened with a Massachusetts showdown, as the Boston Breakers took a 4-2 home victory over the visiting New England Mutiny. After falling behind 1-0 in the first twelve minutes, the Breakers came roaring back thanks to the work of Australian international Kyah Simon who scored her first hat trick with Boston.

New England picked up a goal in the twelfth minute after a defensive breakdown by Boston. Riley Houle took advantage of a loose ball and beat goalkeeper Alice Binns as she came out to challenge. Mutiny held the advantage until nearly the end of the half before Boston found their rhythm.

In the 41st minute Katie Schoepfer played a through ball to Simon, who slipped it past Mutiny goalkeeper Vikki Alonzo for the equalizer. Four minutes later Simon scored her second on a feed from Courtney Jones, and the Breakers never looked back.

Five minutes into the second half Schoepfer was tripped in the box and proceeded to bury the penalty kick for a 3-1 advantage. Ten minutes later Kate Howarth took a ball played into the Breakers box by Kelsey Hood and beat Binns to cut the Boston lead to 3-2. Finally, in the 66th minute Simon completed her hat trick after Jones played a ball over the top from 40 yards out for the Aussie to head in.

“There haven’t been many games we’ve been down 1-nil within 20 minutes, so it definitely was a wake-up call and really got us kicked into gear,” Simon said. “Having two (goals), I had it in the back of my head that I was near a hat trick, but I was still working on assisting other people and playing good football. I was thankful that the third goal came, and at the end of the day, I can say I scored a hat trick.”

Chicago Red Stars 3, ASA Chesapeake Charge 1
Friday, June 22: The league-leading Chicago Red Stars notched their seventh win in eight games as they defeated ASA Chesapeake Charge 3-1 at Old Mill School in Maryland. The win did not come easily, with Charge going out to a 1-0 lead after a foul on Chicago’s Lauren Alkek resulted in a penalty kick. That lead would last through the first half, only the second time Chicago had found themselves on the short end.

Three minutes into the second half the Red Stars struck for their first goal as Michele Weissenhofer worked a cross which was deflected to Lori Chalupny. The Chicago captain had no trouble netting the equalizer. Nine minutes later the Red Stars went up 2-1, just before a 20-minutes delay was called because of lightning.

When the game resumed, so did Chicago’s attack. Wissenhofer, Chalupny and Juliane Sitch all had strong attempts, but to no effect. Finally in the waning minutes Alkek fired a cross from the right side that Weissenhofer blasted in from point-blank range for the final 3-1 score.

Western New York Flash 2, Philadelphia Fever 0
Friday, June 22: The Western New York Flash defeated the Philadelphia Fever 2-0 to run their undefeated string to seven matches. The game saw the return to the Flash of U.S. Women’s National Team members Lori Lindsey and Meghan Klingenberg and U.S. U-23 National Team members Stephanie Ochs and Toni Pressley.

The Flash dominated possession throughout the game, with Fever putting their numbers behind the ball in an effort to stem the attacks. In the 27th minute Spanish international Adriana opened the scoring with a 25-yard shot on a pass from Katy Frierson. It was Adriana’s eighth goal of the season, tops in the league at the time.

WNY’s second goal came at the 49-minute mark when Frierson fed the ball to Klingenberg, who then chipped a shot over the head of Philadelphia goalkeeper Michelle Dalton. At the other end of the pitch, the Flash defense of Tori Huster, Katherine Reynolds, Nikki Marshall and Alex Sahlen held the Fever to no corners or shots on goal, making for an easy night in goal for Brittany Cameron.

Boston Breakers 2, New York Fury 0
Saturday, June 23: Boston continued their assault on Chicago’s top spot as they defeated the New York Fury 2-0 at Dilboy Stadium. Simon scored one goal in each half to lead the Breakers and temporarily give her a league-leading nine goals. It was the Breakers third straight win and improved their record to 7-2-0.

The game was delayed 45 minutes due to a driving rain and powerful thunderstorm, but the 2,117 fans stayed to watch a match that featured USWNT teammates Heather O’Reilly and Tobin Heath competing on opposite sides. Both American internationals played solid games, nearly scoring several times for their respective sides.

It took Boston until the 35th minute to finally break the deadlock. After a scramble in front of the box, Schoepfer came up with the ball and passed it along to Simon who netted her first goal of the night. Her second came in final minute, shortly after O’Reilly beat Fury goalkeeper Michelle Betos but had her shot cleared off the line by Jazmyne Avant. Simon then buried the goal for the 2-0 final score.

Chicago Red Stars 4, Philadelphia Fever 1
Sunday, June 24: For the second time in one week, the Red Stars found themselves behind to start a match as the Philadelphia Fever’s Brittany Radcliffe scored on her side’s first shot of the game. Chicago carried the majority of the possession for the first half, but it wasn’t until about the half-hour mark that Sitch scored on a rebound from a shot by Chalupny. In spite of several good chances, the Red Stars were unable to find a second goal and the half ended tied at 1-1.

In the second half Chicago upped the pressure and in the 51st minute Chalupny sent a long ball to Ashlee Elliott, who headed the ball to Alyssa Mautz for the goal. In the 74th minute it was Chalupny again, this time feeding Sitch for Chicago’s third of the night. Finally, with three minutes left in regulation, Chalupny picked up her own goal off a pass from Alkek. The 4-1 final score helped keep the Red Stars firmly in first place, with 24 points.

New England Mutiny 3, Western New York Flash 3

Sunday, June 24: New England and Western New York played to a 3-3 draw at East Longmeadow High School in Massachusetts. Kate Howarth scored twice for the Mutiny, while Adriana picked up a pair for the Flash. The single point helped WNY remain in a tie for second with Boston, with 21 points, while Mutiny moved a point closer to the fourth playoff spot.

Mutiny Struck early when Howarth fed Becca Mays, who then returned the ball to Howarth for the score in the fourth minute of the match. Four minutes later, Klingenberg sent a pass to Huster who then fed Adriana for the score.

Flash took the lead at the 20-minute mark when Adriana sent a cross to Klingenberg for the 2-1 advantage. That lasted only five minutes before Mutiny’s Morgan Andrews went in unassisted past three defenders and beat Cameron. Just before the half ended Andrews sent a cross in to Howarth who headed the ball in for a 3-2 Mutiny lead.

Western New York came out strong in the second half, pushing New England back into their end to ward off the attacks. Finally in the 77th minute the visitors caught a break when Mutiny’s Sara Brochu was called for a handball in the box. Adriana took the penalty kick and blasted a shot past Alonzo for the 3-3 tie. Both sides pushed hard for the go-ahead goal but the match ended in a draw.

WPSL Elite League Standings for Week 7

Team Points Games W L D GF GA GD
Chicago Red Stars 24 9 8 1 0 23 6 17
Boston Breakers 21 9 7 2 0 20 6 14
Western New York Flash 21 10 6 1 3 18 6 12
New York Fury 16 9 5 3 1 14 7 7
New England Mutiny 11 9 3 4 2 18 26 -8
ASA Chesapeake Charge 4 8 1 6 1 7 22 -15
Philadelphia Fever 2 8 0 6 2 6 17 -11
FC Indiana 1 8 0 7 1 5 21 -16

Upcoming Games
Thursday, June 28, 2012
ASA Cheaspeake Charge at New York Fury
Friday, June 29, 2012
FC Indiana at Philadelphia Fever
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Chicago Red Stars at Boston Breakers
Sunday, July 1, 2012
FC Indiana at ASA Chesapeake Charge
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
New England Mutiny at New York Fury