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April 21, 2010 > Gold Pride win home opener

Gold Pride win home opener

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo

In 2010, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) has a league-wide campaign: "Defend Your Turf." On Saturday, April 17, FC Gold Pride did just that, beating the defending WPS champion Sky Blue FC, 3-1, at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium.

"It is important that you win your home games," said FC Gold Pride coach Albertin Montoya. "That's one of the things we stressed on: 'No one comes here to our home and comes out with a win.' "

Christine Sinclair scored twice and Marta tallied her first goal as a member of the FC Gold Pride, as the Bay Area-based team (and only West Coast WPS club) earned its first win, evening its record to 1-1 on the young season.

"Last year, it took me five games to get a goal," said Sinclair. "It's nice to get it out of the way early, and to help our team win our home opener was huge."

Both of Sinclair's goals gave the Gold Pride a one-goal advantage. In the first half, in the 11th minute, the Canadian National Teamer gave the Pride a 1-0 edge following the rebound of a Camille Abily shot.

And in the second half, with the game tied at 1-1, Sinclair and Kelley O'Hara hooked up in the 75th minute to give the Pride a 2-1 edge.

O'Hara stole a pass at the Gold Pride 35 yard line, turned and sent a long ball down the center of the field, which Sinclair tracked down 40 yards later, behind the defense, and flipped over the on-coming Sky Blue FC keeper Karen Bardsley. In the ball's descent to goal, it hit the crossbar before laying securely in the goal.

"(O'Hara) saw me, and as soon as we made eye contact, I just took off," said Sinclair. "She played a perfect pass in and (Bardsley) got caught in no-man's land."

O'Hara assisted on both the Pride's two second-half goals, as the Pride upped its record to 1-1 on the season. Last week, the Pride lost its season opener on the road to the Athletica in St. Louis. O'Hara feels the team's energy was key to winning on Saturday night.

"This week was 10 times better than last week," said O'Hara. "We came out as a team and our presence on the field was so much better. And our energy and enthusiasm was the reason we won this game."

Nicole Barnhart was solid in the net, stopping three of the four Sky Blue FC shots, but also acting as a sweeper-type defender in the backfield, controlling play for the Pride. The only blemish in Barnhart's night was a virtually unstoppable shot by Laura Kalimari.

Rosana got the play started when she slipped in behind the Pride defense and centered a ball that Jessica Landstrom tracked down. Landstrom found Kalimari, who cracked a shot at goal that hit the inside of the left post, traveled across the goal line to the right post and in to knot the game in the 48th minute.

"I think they got kind of lucky on the goal," said O'Hara. "We just stuck to our game plan and were able to come back."

In the 82nd minute, O'Hara teamed up with Marta to give the Pride an insurance goal.

O'Hara received a pass from Sinclair before she found Marta inside the box. Marta played with a couple Sky Blue FC defenders, faking right before cutting to her more favorable left foot, where she buried the 18-yard strike upper 90 for the 3-1 lead that they would hold onto for the victory.

"It was a quick play," said Marta. "Kelley was able to serve me a good ball, and with luck, I was able to put the ball in the right place (for the goal)."

O'Hara is someone that Montoya feels is a key player to the team's success.

"Kelly is going to give you 90 minutes strong every game," said Montoya. "That's why we drafted her number one (third overall)."

But the differences in the game for Montoya were the two new additions to the Gold Pride starting lineup: Carrie Dew and Becky Edwards (who replaced Tiffeny Milbrett and Solveig Gulbrandsen).

"I believe Becky and Carrie were the difference tonight," said Montoya. "They won almost every ball in the midfield, stepping in, tackling, winning air balls ... those two in the middle were outstanding tonight, and they set the tone."

Next up for the pride is a Saturday, April 24, date with the expansion Atlanta Beat at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m. PT. Montoya hopes the Pride can get on the winning track.

"As a team, you want to get on a roll," said Montoya. "Once you start winning, it rubs off on all the players ... we're trying to get to that. It's not good enough to just get a win today and then go down next weekend."

Game notes: Start of the second half was delayed six minutes when one goal's net needed repairing. Substitutions: Rosana for Tasha Kai (SBFC, 45th); Jessica Landstrom for Yael Averbuch (SBFC, 45th); Kiki Bosio for Camille Abily (FCGP, 70th); Kandace Wilson for Kristen Graczyk (FCGP, 77th); Kiersten Dallstream for Keeley Dowling (SBFC, 80th); Tiffeny Milbrett for Christine Sinclair (FCGP, 84th). Attendance: 3,757. Officials: Felisha Mariscal, referee; Marlene Dufft, senior assistant; Colin Arblaster, junior assistant; Maurizio Laudani, fourth official.

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