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blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Head coach Aaran Lines referred to his team as “angry” after Western New York’s 1-0 loss to Boston Sunday evening, a Flash squad suddenly hungry for redemption in the WPSL Elite playoffs.

With the loss, the Flash fell short of its quest to finish atop the league, settling for the No. 2 seed and a semifinal match-up Wednesday against the New York Fury.

Ever-positive captain McCall Zerboni, visibly frustrated after the defeat, still took a positive spin on the post-season.

“We can look at [the loss] as a blessing in disguise,” she said. “We don’t want to taste the salt in our mouth again. If everything was going our way, maybe we wouldn’t have changed anything, but now that we’ve run into a bump in the road, we’re going to come even stronger Wednesday.”

The match: Western New York Flash vs. New York Fury, WPSL Elite Semifinal
The venue: Sahlen’s Stadium, 460 Oak St., Rochester
The time: 5 p.m. Wednesday
Last result: WNY fell to Boston 1-0, NY tied Chicago 1-1

1) Handling adversity: Although Sunday’s loss was crushing, spirits were much higher on Monday.

“We were a little more upbeat after we digested that unlucky loss,” Lines explained. “We analyzed [the Boston match] and the one mistake that cost us the game.”

To take their mind briefly off soccer Monday afternoon, several team members took a ride on the Edward M. Cotter, the world’s oldest functioning fireboat that still services the Buffalo Fire Department. 

2) Bettering set pieces: If there’s one problem area for the Flash this season, it’s been dead-ball situations. When the Fury surprised WNY at home 1-0 in May, it was a designed set-piece by Paul Riley’s club – a dummy by Tina DiMartino and a strike by Brittany Taylor – that burned the Flash defense.

“We haven’t done well with set pieces, both offensively and defensively,” Lines admitted, “and it’s not a matter of not working on them enough. We’ve actually had better service this year than last, but we need to go into the box with desire on offense, and we have to be accountable on defense.”

Despite a whopping 16 corner kicks against the Breakers, no Flash finisher could solve Boston keeper Alice Binns.

3) Scouting the Fury: Even though Riley’s New York club will be without Olympian Tobin Heath, the Fury is still a menace – especially on defense and in the midfield.

“They definitely have a [former] WPS midfield and back-four,” Lines warned. “Allie Long, Sinead Farrelly, Tina DiMartino and then those four defenders.”

New York became even stronger with the late-season signing of forward Casey Nogueira, a crafty forward who last played for Sky Blue in WPS and FC Dallas in the WPSL. Nogueira debuted against Chicago in the season finale, entering for the final 41 minutes. 

With the hunger stemming from the loss to Boston, can the Western New York Flash breakdown the New York Fury’s defense and advance to the WPSL Elite Championship?

TAGGED: aaran lines, new york fury, western new york flash, wny flash, wpsl elite, wpsl elite playoffs

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