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Flash cools Fever for fourth straight shutout

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

The Western New York Flash rebounded from last Sunday’s scoreless draw against Philadelphia to down the Fever 2-0 in Friday’s rematch at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester. Adriana and U.S. international Meghan Klingenberg struck for the Flash, while keeper Brittany Cameron kept the clean sheet without facing a shot.

“Last weekend was very disappointing for us—it was a similar game where we scored a few goals but had them called back,” said Flash midfielder Katy Frierson (pictured), who assisted on both markers Friday. “We were really excited knowing that we got to play them back-to-back, and we had some unfinished business from last week that we took care of tonight.”

Clearly outmatched from the start, Philadelphia put 10 players behind the ball to congest the Flash attack and perhaps find luck on a counterattack or off a Western New York blunder. The blunders never came, and Stuart Gore’s Fever rarely advanced beyond midfield with possession.

“We knew it was going to be like that,” WNY head coach Aaran Lines admitted. “We knew they were going to park a couple of buses in front of our 18-yard box and make it difficult for us to break them down.”

Despite nearly 90% of the possession—almost all of it in Philadelphia’s end—Western New York didn’t dent the score-sheet until the 27th minute. Flash striker Adriana, the team’s leader in goals, checked back to receive a short pass from Frierson, turned when she didn’t feel pressure, then launched a curling 25-yard drive that dipped into the upper-left corner of Michele Dalton’s goal. 

“On the first goal, just a piece of class to unlock it,” Lines said. “Nice to see Adriana hit the back of the net again. I was glad to get that first one—the longer it stays 0-0, the more you build [the Fever] up.”

Protecting a one-goal lead at the break, Western New York didn’t seem concerned, even without captain McCall Zerboni, who missed the match after suffering a strained quad in warmups. Five minutes into the second frame, the lead doubled.

With her back to goal, Frierson corralled an aerial pass outside the 18-yard box before volleying a through-ball over both Philadelphia center backs and into Klingenberg’s path. The Olympic alternate looped her shot over an over-committed Dalton and under the crossbar.

“I was thinking that [Dalton] was off her line and I wanted to put it over her head, but I also didn’t think it was going to be as comical as it actually was,” Klingenberg explained with a laugh. “Coming out here and being able to score in front of the home fans, getting a great ball from Frierson—if it wasn’t such a good ball from her, it would have been much harder [to score].” 

“I saw [Meghan] out of the corner of my eye, and she made great slashing runs all game, and I counted on her to make that run again,” Frierson admitted. “I popped it over the top and she had a heck of a finish over the keeper’s head.”

Friday night marked the first and last home match that U.S. internationals Lori Lindsey and Klingenberg would spend with the Flash this season. Lindsey rebounded from a shaky start to play mistake-free football in the second half, while Klingenberg’s unrelenting runs tormented Philadelphia’s defense the entire evening. 

“Having Lori and Kling is fantastic for Western New York to come out and watch two players on the Olympic roster who are going to compete and try to win gold,” Lines said. “A real special piece for the younger soccer players and fans here tonight to watch this.” 

While Lindsey and Klingenberg made a substantial difference in Western New York’s calm yet creative attack, it was Frierson’s technical skills that stole the show. A maestro with the ball at her feet, the Auburn University graduate filled Zerboni’s role admirably, replacing the captain’s quick turns and leadership with superb touch and unrivaled vision. With equally heady midfielder Angela Salem eager to switch fields and distribute dangerous through-balls, the center of the midfield didn’t miss a beat.

“[McCall] has been a great leader,” Frierson said. “I’ve been able to look up to her and see how she plays and manages the game. I tried to emulate some of the stuff she does today.”

Lines credited the Flash’s fairly easy transition without Zerboni to the club’s depth and patience.

“That’s the strength in having a very good roster,” he said. “That was a strength in winning a championship; you have to be able to rely on players. This is a difficult situation for some of the younger players who haven’t been in this situation before; they’ve been studs in college and don’t realize that things can change so quickly.”

“Katy Frierson—10 days ago, two weeks ago—wasn’t in the lineup. Katy Frierson now—she’s difficult to take out of the lineup,” he added.

The depth doesn’t end with Frierson, Lines made sure to mention.

“I thought Laura Heyboer came in today and had a good performance—she did well last week when she started against them, and she’s another player putting her hand up, telling us she wants to be on the field.”

Western New York (6-1-2) travels to New England Sunday to square-off against the Mutiny. Kickoff is at 5 p.m., and you can follow the match updates on Twitter (@WNYFlash.) How long can WNY preserve the team’s season-best shutout streak which, after today, has grown to 368 minutes?

Flash: Cameron; Sahlen, Marshall, Reynolds, Huster; Lindsey (Van Egmond 57’), Salem, Frierson (Pressley 65’); Davis (Heyboer 46’), Klingenberg (Ochs 57’), Adriana (Thompson 65’).

(Featured photo courtesy of Mark Novak—see more of his shots at the Flash Facebook Page)

TAGGED: aaran lines, katy frierson, lori lindsey, meghan klingenberg, philadelphia fever, pro women's soccer, western new york flash, wny flash, wpsl elite

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