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5 things to watch in WPSL Elite Final

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WPSL Elite Championship: Western New York vs Chicago - LIVE-BLOG

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

THE FLASH ARE CHAMPIONS! Salem picks her corner and doesn’t miss, and that’s three straight titles for Western New York. 4-2 in penalties after 1-1 in regulation!

Still 3-2 Flash! Wenino pings the left pipe, and now Angela Salem has a chance to strike the winning penalty.

3-2 Flash! Van Egmond slots hers to the low right side, and Forbes is beaten by a foot. Michelle Wenino to kick now for the Red Stars.

We’re tied 2-2 after three shooters, as Forbes blasts her shot down the middle. Simply too much pace. Van Egmond up now for WNY.

2-1 Flash, as McCall Zerboni’s penalty is stopped at the left post by a diving Forbes. Chicago can equalize now, as keeper Jamie Forbes will shoot.

2-1 Flash still! Sitch’s penalty is directly at Cameron’s thigh as the keeper sprawls to her left, and the ball glances away from the goal. Gigantic save, Flash advantage.

2-1 Flash! Reynolds goes the same way as Adriana, and Forbes guesses wrong again. So far, no one has missed through three shooters.

1-1 tie. Fowlkes gently places hers to the low left corner; Cameron is nowhere in sight.

1-0 Flash in PKS! Adriana forces Forbes to guess wrong, and she buries to the low right corner. Fowlkes up next for Chicago.

0-0 PKs—Adriana will take the first penalty for Western New York against Chicago keeper Jamie Forbes.

PKs -- We’re about to determine who will shoot first. Both teams are still in their huddles choosing their first five shooters. Flash captain McCall Zerboni and Jen Buczkowski engage in the coin toss, and the Flash win it. They’ll take the penalties at the scoreboard end of the stadium.

PKs— In shades of last year’s WPS Final at Sahlen’s Stadium, the first WPSL Elite title game has gone to penalties.

——————-End of Second extra-time session, tied 1-1——————-

120’— One minute of stoppage time, and it’s almost a foregone conclusion that we’re headed to penalties. Given Pressley’s last-second strike in regulation, however, anything can happen. Good hit from Kabellis from 20 yards, but Cameron dives low to her right and grabs it cleanly. A half chance, and we’re going to penalty kicks.

118’— Good target work by Adriana, who finds Salem behind her. A chip over the top is clearly softly, and Zerboni steps in for the theft. She has a clear shot from 19 yards away, but it floats wide right of the goal. Fewer than 90 seconds until penalties.

116’— Good exchange in the deep right corner between Robinson and Reynolds, and a dangerous cross is nearly flicked in for an own goal by Santacaterina at the near post. McCall Zerboni’s corner goes out of play for the third time today before it reaches a teammate.

115’—FLASH SUBSTITUTION: Donna-Kay Henry for Laura Heyboer. Will Henry’s speed pose a problem for the weary Chicago defense? Five minutes remain.

114’— Alkek’s back on the pitch, and her long throw is flicked on, but it’s too far for Shayla Mutz, the late substitute up top. Another goal kick, and the pace is glacial late in the second OT. Looks like Donna-Kay Henry is about to enter.

112’— Kara Kabellis takes an elbow to the face about 35 yards from goal, and there’s a free kick upcoming. Kabellis’ driven kick hits an open Mautz at the back post, but she’s ruled off-sides by the near linesman. Nine minutes away from penalties, and both teams are running on fumes after nearly two hours of action.

110’— Stephanie Ochs, who was carted off with a head injury, is back on the Flash bench and looks to be doing okay. Lauren Alkek, Chicago’s right back, is shaken up and is nursing a cramp on the sideline. Van Egmond tries to serve in toward Heyboer, but Forbes is quick and confident off her line.

106’— The two teams switch sides, and there are no substitutions to note. Flash doing a better job of using their width, creating a few chances on the left flank here. Glorious opportunity on the counter for Mautz, who is alone eight yards from goal after a cross from Mutz, but strikes her lefty volley wide of the far post. She holds her head in disgust and disbelief.

——————-Second period of extra time begins, tied 1-1—————-

105’ -- Excellent challenge in midfield by Angela Salem and a long ball over the top springs Adriana inside the 18—she traps initially with her thigh and absorbs contact from a defender at her side, and the collision is enough to throw her off balance and weaken her shot, which trickled well wide of the right post. A little after-the-play shenanigans from Adriana, who’s been frustrated for much of the match.

103’— Western New York musters decent possession in the midfield—a few good turns by Emily Van Egmond—but no chances are produced. Chicago still winning almost every ball in the air in the midfield, though Pressley, Marshall and Reynolds have been steadier in the back during the first overtime session.

99’ -- The center official is truly struggling here, calling things at random, it seems. Nikki Marshall went up over the back of a Chicago attacker and was called for a foul. Excellent ball into the box by Kabellis from 35 yards, but Flash keeper Brittany Cameron leaps to snag the ball. She’s down briefly but back on her feet.

97’—Mautz is tugged down just outside of the Flash penalty area by Angela Salem—a near horsecollar tackle from behind, and here comes a dangerous free kick from 19 yards by Chicago sub Kara Kabellis. The sturdy Flash wall blocks the attempt.

95’— Good work in the back from both Nikki Marshall and Katherine Reynolds, as the duo recovered quickly after a dangerous run from Alyssa Mautz. The Flash still have two substitutes available to use, while Chicago has only one.

94’— Wenino of Chicago slid hard into Jodi-Ann Robinson, and Wenino gets up limping. Robinson’s cross connected with Heyboer’s right foot on the volley, but she didn’t get enough mustard on her try from 10 yards.

92’— The two teams now will play two 15-minute sessions of extra time before penalties. There’s no golden goal. Pressley fouls Sitch on a long run down the right side, and WNY will have to defend a set piece. Salem heads away from danger, and a long attempt rolls out for a Flash goal kick.

91’— One of the wildest ‘buzzer-beater’ goals I’ve ever witnessed, a “shot heard ‘round the women’s soccer world.”

——————-Beginning of first extra-time session, tied 1-1———————

90’+— An exceptional conclusion to regulation sets up an even crazier extra-time period. Stunning strike by Pressley from the top of the 18-yard box that Forbes had no chance at. One of the best strikers of the ball on Western New York, Pressley was put in a perfect position to produce by Robinson.

90+— THE FLASH HAVE EQUALIZED IN THE 96TH MINUTE! A pretty turn by Jodi-Ann Robinson, who laid the ball back to Toni Pressley from 20-yards out. The defender sent a missile that careened off the crossbar and straight down past Jamie Forbes. This is simply unbelievable!

90+ —Maybe 30 seconds left.

90+— Foul in the box on Pressley in the attacking zone. And the official has the whistle in her mouth. Could this be it?

90’+— Sahlen tries to bend a corner in from the left side, and she hasn’t gotten her hips squarely around. Fortunately for the Flash, Forbes coughs up the ball out of play for a corner kick. Zerboni delivers a perfect ball into the top of the six-yard box, but Pressley’s header goes straight up and over the crossbar. Two minutes remain.

90’— Six minutes of stoppage time has been announced. Great last-ditch tackle by Buczkowski on Adriana, who won a loose ball at the top of the 18. As the Spanish international tried to cut inside, Buczkowski came from behind to poke the ball free.

89’— RED STARS SUBSTITUTION: Shayla Mutz enters for Ashleigh Ellenwood.

88’— Western New York continues to press forward, but the team’s final touches are eluding them. Things look very bleak right now for Western New York.

86’ -- Good find from Sahlen to Heyboer on the left, and Zerboni checks back for the ball. A cross is floated into the box, and Jodi-Ann Robinson chests down to Van Egmond, whose volley is wide to the left.

83’— Down to the final seven minutes of regulation time, and the ball is primarily in the Flash’s defensive end of the pitch. Dames has continued to push numbers forward to take the pressure off his own defense, and a few careless giveaways by a clearly-pressing WNY club has hindered any build-up.

82’— CHICAGO SUBSTITUTIONS: Kara Kabellis replaces Amanda Cinalli, and Ashlee Elliott checks in for Michelle Weissenhofer.

80’— Cameron stones Cinalli’s breakaway! A terrific through-ball from Ashleigh Ellenwood sent Cinalli alone in on Cameron, who clawed the ball from the feet of Cinalli as the attacking midfielder tried to elude the Flash keeper with the dribble.

79’—Western New York sending all sorts of numbers forward now as we reach the final 10 minutes. Kat Reynolds’ looping cross is easily gathered by Forbes, who’s looked more comfortable as the game has progressed.

77’—Disaster! A great ball delivered into the box by Nikki Marshall in the path of Laura Heyboer, who shields very well and is dragged to the turf by Lauren Alkek of Chicago. Inexplicably, the foul is called on Heyboer, not a penalty kick for the Flash. The Sahlen’s Stadium crowd is stunned.

73’—Excellent block by Wenino on a Van Egmond strike that seemed destined for goal. Chicago defender Lauren Fowlkes cuts off another Flash cross, as she’s been peerless in the air tonight for Dames’ team.

71’ -- Horrible giveaway from Nikki Marshall of WNY—Weissenhofer picks off her clearance, sees the four on two opportunity, and plays the ball into space for Ellenwood. The Chicago reserve hits the ball to the back post with her left foot, but it trickles wide. Lines wipes sweat off his brow, relieved at Chicago’s squandered attempt.

68’— Reynolds makes her presence felt on offense for WNY, galloping down a hole in the right side and curling a cross that went over Adriana’s head and nearly dropped at the feet of Heyboer, but Chicago’s Alkek is responsible in her own zone, clearing for a corner. For the second time this afternoon, Zerboni’s corner kick flies out of bounds—another wasted chance.

66’—FLASH SUBSTITUTION: Emily Van Egmond enters for Ochs, who took the worst of her challenge with Wenino. Omolyn Davis and Stephanie Ochs have left the game due to injury for WNY, while Lori Chalupny and Ella Masar have been knocked out of the contest too for Chicago.

63’— The Flash’s Ochs and Chicago’s Wenino knock heads vying for a loose ball—they’re both down clutching their noggins. The cart is rushed onto the field, but it appears both have use of their extremities. I can’t overstate the physical nature of this match. Wenino walks off, and Ochs is helped to a golf cart, and she’s bleeding pretty profusely from her face.

61’— FLASH SUBSTITUTION: Jodi-Ann Robinson enters for Frierson, who’s had a very frustrating afternoon.

61’— Pressley beaten badly on the right by Weissenhofer, but Sahlen cycles well and kicks the long dribble away.

60’— Michele Wenino stole a long pass from Frierson and sprinted up field with the ball—Zerboni stuck in hard on the tackle, won it, and found Ochs on the right wing, who had her cross blocked.

58’— Cinalli, who’s been a real threat since entering, nearly pads Chicago’s lead with a worm-burner of a cross through the Western New York area. No Red Star can latch onto the cross at the back-post. Good work in the midfield by Adriana is spoiled by Frierson, who’s through-ball toward Heyboer is much too heavy. 

57’— Fantastic 30 yard run by Nikki Marshall is foiled by an atrocious first touch from Ochs on the right. Receiving the throw-in, Ochs cuts back sharply to beat Buczkowski but fires over the bar from 10 yards—she had help in front of goal too, but chose her own left foot instead.

55’— FLASH SUBSTITUTION: Toni Pressley replaces Tori Huster. Simply a personnel sub, no injuries prompting this one. Pressley adds more strength on the ball but sacrifices Huster’s speed. A smart move by Lines, it seems, even though Pressley has lost his trust with the gaffe against Boston.

54’— Julianne Sitch nearly doubles the Red Stars’ lead with a curling ball to the back post, but it floats just wide of the left post. Cameron was beaten, however.

53’— That’s the third unforced error by Frierson, who seems less than composed with her touch today. She hasn’t been nearly as threatening as she was late against New York, and perhaps the physicality has had an impact on her.

51’—Salem and Weissenhofer collide at midfield, and Rory Dames is irate with the fact that his player was whistled for the foul. More collisions, as Buczkowski bumps Zerboni to the turf on a header.

48’— Low, driven corner toward the near post is poorly conceived—Adriana, with her back to goal, knocks the ball out of bounds herself trying to redirect the cross.

46’— Zerboni strikes a free kick from 35 yards that flies over the net. Sahlen is trampled to the turf shortly after—no call, but Kat Reynolds is tripped up. Long free kick sails to Adriana’s head and is flicked to Zerboni, who earns the corner. Early pressure from WNY.

46’— Back at it for the second half—no substitutions to note for either side. Chicago used two of its six in the first half, while the Flash used one.

Halftime—The match has been played mostly in the midfield, and the 12 total fouls (eight on Chicago, four on WNY) reflect the match’s intensity. Boding in the Flash’s favor is the two injuries to Chalupny and Masar, but Ellenwood and Cinalli have both been dangerous in their stead, combining for the goal. 

Halftime— Only one shot for each team in the first half, but Chicago made the most of its single opportunity as substitute Ashleigh Ellenwood pounced on a loose ball in the box—a gaffe by Brittany Cameron—and pushed the ball into the empty net.

———————Halftime, Chicago leads 1-0——————-

45’—Two minutes of stoppage time despite all the injuries in the first half. That’s questionable.

44’— A fine service from the left wing by Adriana looks promising, but Chicago left back Michele Wenino skies into the air to win the header. Good build-up by Zerboni and Ochs on the left, but it goes for naught.

43’— Immediately following the goal, several Flash players motioned to the linesmen, believing that Cameron had been illegally interfered with when she had possession of the ball. The linesman left his flag down, however, and despite Laura Heyboer’s protests, the goal stands. Ellenwood, an 18-year old substitute called upon due to an early injury, has made the most of her entrance.

41’— Chicago strikes first! Weissenhofer’s long throw-in bumbles around the penalty box—Cameron calls off Zerboni to pick up the ball, but she doesn’t grab it cleanly. Amanda Cinalli pried the ball free to her teammate Ashleigh Ellenwood, who tapped into the gaping net. 1-0 Chicago in the 41’.

39’—Another good track back on defense from Angela Salem, who followed her marker to the back post to intercept a Weissenhofer cross from the left touchline. Weissenhofer sets up for her flip-throw, then knocks over one of the advertisements on the far sideline. Lines has stationed Frierson immediately in front of the thrower to disrupt Weissenhofer.

37’ —Early long-ball from defensive center midfielder Angela Salem of the Flash sails over a defender to Laura Heyboer, who’s ruled offsides, however. Cinalli has filled in for Chalupny at the same center midfield position.

36’— Buczkowski trips up Zerboni 25 yards from goal and immediately complains. Not a ton of contact there. Salem and Frierson stand over the ball—Salem plays square to Zerboni who flicks through to Frierson, but Zerboni’s touch is too heavy and rolls out of play on the touchline. We’re still scoreless here.

34’ -- RED STARS SUBSTITUTION: Chalupny goes off with an ankle injury for Amanda Cinalli.

34’— Poor touch from Weissenhofer breaks up promising ball movement from the Red Stars. It’s official, Lori Chalupny, the Chicago captain, has been subbed out for Amanda Cinalli.

31’ -- RED STARS SUBSTITUTION: Ellenwood replaces Masar, who’s down with a serious hamstring injury.

31’— Three players help Masar off the pitch, and Ashleigh Ellenwood enters the fray for Chicago. Lori Chalupny is in serious pain too, and she takes the brief injury break to get attention from the medical staff. Looks like an ankle problem for Chalupny too—players are dropping like flies.

29’— Chicago forward Ella Masar is on the ground writhing in pain—looks like her hamstring—as she crumpled to the turf in a footrace against Nikki Marshall. The official blew the whistle for a foul on the play, but there was no contact. Odds look very slim that Masar will be able to continue.

28’ —Weissenhofer turns Sahlen and plays through to Chalupny, but Marshall anticipates on the right wing and knocks the ball out of play. Flip-throw upcoming for Weissenhofer. Cameron dives laterally to punch away again. She has been in command of her box so far, and she’ll need to stay that way.

27’ —Tori Huster swings a strong right-footed cross into the area—Frierson’s in the vicinity, but Santacaterina wins the ball forcefully in the air.

25’—Salem whips a dangerous ball into the box—Adriana flicks it back-post to Ochs, who has her shirt grabbed by Alkek, but it’s not enough for a penalty. Zerboni’s corner kick doesn’t stay in-bounds, a wasted chance.

23’—Another fine tackle on the far sideline by Reynolds on Chicago captain Chalupny, who stumbles to the turf, and the throw goes to WNY. Nice block by Marshall on Weissenhofer after Buczkowski curled a pretty low through-ball into a dangerous area outside the Flash box. Still scoreless here.

22’ -- Zerboni pummels Sitch to the turf on a tackle in midfield. Masar’s set piece from close to the midfield stripe sails to Mautz at the right post—the high bounce in the box allows Flash keeper Cameron to punch the ball out for a corner. Fantastic block by Alex Sahlen stymies the corner kick attempt.

20’— Lines prefers Heyboer in a target striker role, and she’s a little out of position on the right wing. Turnover by the Flash defense gives Chicago a half-chance, but Weissenhofer’s volley doesn’t trouble anyone. Goal kick.

20’— FLASH SUBSTITUTION: Laura Heyboer enters for an injured Omolyn Davis, who’s suffered an ankle injury.

19’— Davis gave it a go for another few minutes, and she cannot go on. Heroes from the semifinal, Laura Heyboer and Jodi-Ann Robinson, are warming up on the sideline for the Flash. It’ll be Heyboer who gets the call in the 20th minute.

17’— Davis is being helped by a Flash trainer, but she’s putting weight on her ankle and will re-enter the game. Lines’ club has dodged a bullet, as there’s no sensible replacement for Davis’ speed and one-on-one skills on the flanks.

16’— Weak shot from 23 yards by Lori Chalupny, who stuck Zerboni at midfield and charged toward goal. She opted for a shot, however, and her left-footed touch was left wanting. Omolyn Davis comes up limping on the right sideline, and the injury looks fairly serious.

14’— Six fouls now between the two teams after Zerboni and Frierson collide with a Chicago back. The Red Stars are doing a better job of winning the physical battles, as Western New York’s smallish midfield of Zerboni, Frierson and Salem doesn’t pack a lot of strength.

12’ -- Dubious foul in midfield on McCall Zerboni, who took an elbow from Santacaterina. Tempers are already flaring—this is definitely more hotly contested than any match WNY has played this season, not terribly surprising since this is the WPSL Elite Final.

11’ -- After a positive exchange in midfield from Zerboni to Frierson, Tori Huster swings in a cross from the right side that is miss-hit into a shot. Chicago’s keeper Jamie Forbes struggles to judge the ball in the air, but she comes down with it cleanly.

10’—Excellent defensive play by Katherine Reynolds, who followed Alyssa Mautz’s run to the far post and timed her tackle perfectly to knock away Weissenhofer’s dangerous low cross into the box. Tremendous.

8’— Davis hacks Wenino to the turf as the Chicago defender tries to clear. Three total fouls in the first eight minutes. Back-heel by Masar to Weissenhofer beats the front line of WNY’s defense, but Mautz, the recipient, is ruled off-side.

6’ -- Terrific cross in from the left by Adriana, but Omolyn Davis’ free header at the back post is bungled badly. That’s WNY’s best chance so far, one that Davis would love to have back. Still 0-0.

6’—Great battle on the far sideline between Lauren Alkek of Chicago and Stephanie Ochs of WNY. Plenty of shoulder-to-shoulder challenges in the early going. It’s shaping up to be a physical match.

4’— Long ball from Alyssa Mautz nearly finds Weissenhofer down the left flank, but Marshall recovers to blast the ball into the stands. Weissenhofer’s first flip-throw of the afternoon is errant, sailing out of bounds. Her distance on the flip is mind-boggling.

3’— Cameron storms off her line to pick off a cross. Her outlet to Adriana is pinpoint, and the Flash bench is irate after the Spanish striker is pulled down by Buczkowski right in front of the Flash bench. No call.

2’— Chicago wins a disputed corner in the 2nd minute. Wenino had the ball on her foot at the top of the six facing goal, but she scuffed her shot into the ground. Glorious chance in the opening minutes for the Red Stars.

1’— Rousing ovation for the Flash as the players scuttle to their positions. Maybe 1,000 in attendance so far—hard to tell exactly. Omolyn Davis for the Flash is matched up on Chicago’s Michele Wenino on the right flank, a match-up that Davis exploited in the last home meeting.

0’— Chicago head coach Rory Dames is wearing the exact same outfit as he wore on Wednesday. You’d think he’d bring a change of clothes along! His Red Stars, in their sky blue jerseys with white trim and numbers, just took the pitch.

0’ -- It’s game-time. Can the Flash win three straight titles?

Pre-game—Flash statistician and pre-game announcer Andy Evenhouse just announced the WNY squad, and unfortunately his mic cut out repeatedly. Not everything is easy in WPSL Elite!

Pre-game—Here are your official starting XIs:

Chicago: Forbes; Santacaterina, Fowlkes, Wenino, Alkek; Chalupny, Buczkowski, Sitch, Mautz; Masar, Weissenhofer.
WNY: Cameron; Sahlen, Reynolds, Marshall, Huster; Salem, Zerboni, Frierson; Davis, Ochs, Adriana

Pre-game—The two teams have exited the field after their pre-game warm-ups, and we still have 20 minutes until today’s kickoff. For a more in depth preview of today’s match, go here.

Pre-game—The only lineup change from Chicago’s semi win is the insertion of defender Lauren Alkek in place of Mary Therese McDonnell. Flip-throw specialist Michele Weissenhofer starts up top alongside speedy Ella Masar, but the experienced duo of Lori Chalupny and Jen Buczkowski is the meat-and-potatoes of Rory Dames’ XI.

Pre-game—Aaran Lines’ club starts the identical lineup as Wednesday’s win, as Brittany Cameron earns the championship start in net, Toni Pressley remains on the bench and Nikki Marshall and Katherine Reynolds are the two first-choice center backs.

Pre-game—After Wednesday’s come-from-behind win over the New York Fury in the WPSL Elite Semifinal, the Western New York Flash looks to seal its third straight title after winning the W-League in 2010 and WPS in 2011.

TAGGED: aaran lines, chicago red stars, sahlen's stadium, western new york flash, wny flash, wpsl elite, wpsl elite playoffs

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