Week 5 of WPS saw 2 players score their first goals of the season and career in Lindsay Tarpley and Kelley O’Hara, respectively, the opening of the first soccer stadium built just for women’s soccer, another early candidate for Goal of the Year, and some more of the best women’s soccer on the world.
The Boston Breakers played the Washington Freedom at the SoccerPlex in DC to a scoreless tie on an extremely windy day. Abby Wambach had a shot in the 21st minute, but the wind affected the shot, making the ball sail high and wide of the goal. Kelly Smith kicked what looked like an intended cross into the box, but her shot forced Freedom goalkeeper, Erin McLeod, to make a diving save to the top corner of the goal in the 44th minute. Just seconds after that play, Kristine Lilly kicked a shot, but the wind picked the ball up and kept it in play for Lauren Cheney to head just over and behind the crossbar. Wambach came down in the 88th minute as she went up for a header on a long ball from none other than Cat Whitehill. After Wambach collided with Breakers goalkeeper Ashley Phillips, Phillips’ cleat hit Wambach in the face, causing a bloody nose. It seems like a cleat to the face hurts her more than two broken bones in her leg. Beverly Goebel replaced Wambach for her first minutes played in a professional match. Cheney had a shot in the 2nd minute of stoppage time that just went wide for the last significant chance at scoring of the game. You win, wind.
After many close chances for both teams, Allison Falk brought her team down with an own goal t put the St. Louis Athletica up 1-0 at the end of the first half. As Eniola Aluko and Lindsay Tarpley worked a one-two pass sequence, the final pass to Aluko deflected off Falk’s shin. Karina LeBlanc dove to her right to try to save the ball from going in, but was not able to get the ball out. In the 60th minute, Tarpley scored her first goal in her first start of the season after recovering from an ACL injury that occurred late last season. Chalupny played the ball into space inside the 18, Tarpley took the ball, spun around a defender and placed the ball inside the far post where LeBlanc had no chance of saving it. 14 minutes later, Lindsey Patterson scored a rebound of Hope Solo’s chest, but it was all the Independence would score, and the Athletica came away with 3 points.
FC Gold Pride shut out the Chicago Red Stars, earning their 4th win this season to add to their 1 loss. After Ifeoma Dieke pushed Kelley O’Hara in the penalty box and was shown a red card for being the last defender, Tiffeny Milbrett took a penalty kick that was saved by Jillian Loyden in the 25th minute. However, Milbrett made up for the missed chance in the 45th minute of the match. Kelley O’Hara one-timed a long pass into the box to Milbrett who half-volleyed a shot to the crossbar. The rebound went straight back to Milbrett who juggled it in blasted a volley that, this time, went into the goal. Kelley O’Hara scored her first professional goal to seal the win in the 78th minute after running down a pass from Kimberly Yokers and curving a shot past Loyden. FC Gold Pride are still in first place, 3 points ahead of Sky Blue FC.
The last game of this week featured the Atlanta Beat playing their first home game of the season hosting the reigning WPS Champions, Sky Blue FC, in their brand new, one-of-a-kind soccer stadium. After being on the road for a month, the Beat got to finally entertain their own fans at home, but an own goal from Leigh Ann Robinson spoiled the home opener 5 minutes into the first half. The Atlanta Beat dominated the match, and constantly attacked Karen Bardsley’s goal. Ramona Bachmann created havoc in the offensive third all night long along with her teammates, but great saves from Bardsley kept them away from the scoreboard. Sky Blue now have 9 points and are in 2nd place. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Beat have 1point with 4 losses and 1 tie, and sit at the bottom of the standings. It’s not the way they planned on opening the season, but once they start finishing chances, they’ll start earning the points. There is too much talent on that team to be on a losing season so far.
Next week, the Boston Breakers return home to take on FC Gold Pride on Friday, May 14 at 7:30pm ET. The Philadelphia Independence is back in the Midwest to face the Chicago Red Stars on May 15 at 7pm ET. On Sunday, the St. Louis Athletica will play against Sky Blue FC, who will be on the road for the second week in a row, at 4pm ET, and the Game of the Week on FSC will be in Atlanta once again as the Beat looks to turn its luck around against the Washington Freedom at 6pm ET.