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July 6, 2010 > FC Gold Pride pounds Beat

FC Gold Pride pounds Beat

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

Photos submitted by Patricia Giobetti

FC Gold Pride came off its first loss at home and lit the nets like a Fourth of July fireworks show on Saturday, July 3, at KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. All stars Christine Sinclair, Marta and Kelley O'Hara each put the ball in the back of the net to a convincing 4-0 win over the Atlanta Beat.

"It was a great performance all the way around," said Pride coach Albertin Montoya. "I got to give credit to our players. They worked hard all week and bounced back from a loss with a performance like this."

But this team, according to Gold Pride captain, and WPS All-Star, Rachel Buehler, is much more than the stars.

"It's definitely beyond the all stars," said Buehler of the contributions of the first-place Pride. "Everybody on the team is contributing so much. The substitutes that come in are contributing so much. We've had a lot of different lineups and each person who has been in has done a really great job."

Gold Pride's defense was strong. Playing in an unconventional 3-5-2 for the first half, it may have stunned the Beat. But despite the three defenders, the Pride's defense was strong. In the second half, with a lead, they went back to a 4-3-3 and closed out the game.

"We wanted to make sure they didn't have any shots," said Montoya. "And if they did, find any way to get a body on it. It's more of a mindset: we're going out here; going to compete; win our individual battles; and make it as difficult as we can for them around the 18."

FC Gold Pride didn't mess around in its game with the Atlanta Beat. Just 40 seconds into the match, Christine Sinclair got out of her recent slump but sliding a shot past Hope Solo for a 1-0 lead.

Atlanta defense misplayed a ball, Tiffeny Milbrett ran onto the 50-50 ball in the box, but Solo came out to block her shot. Marta got the rebound about 15 yards from goal and played a square ball to Sinclair who freed up her right foot before slotting it in the side netting.

"As a forward it's always nice to score," said Sinclair. "It was nice to quiet the fans and give us some breathing room."

Gold Pride's four-goal onslaught is the franchise record for goals in a game. It also improved their record to 8-3-1, giving them 25 points and a firm hold of first place.

Atlanta (1-6-3, 6 points) first threatened the Pride goal when Mami Yamaguchi took a blocked Eniola Aluko shot and hit it first time at goal. Yamaguchi got all of the ball, firing it past Pride keeper Nicole Barnhart, but clanged it off the bar and out, keeping the Pride on top, 1-0.

Marta took advantage of her chance when she got the ball in the box in the 30th minute. She was fed into the box by O'Hara, and was able to finish. Marta outraced the speedy Tina Ellertson, promptly faked her out of her boots, took a touch and hit a right-footed shot past Solo, off the low part of the crossbar and in for a 2-0 lead.

With the 2-0 lead, the Pride were already in the driver's seat to getting a crucial road victory, but in the 33rd minute, their chances heightened when Kia McNeil was sent off with a straight red card for jumping into Barnhart cleats up. With McNeil's red card, the Pride played the final 57 minutes a man up.

"I came out for the ball and I didn't really see her coming" said Barnhart of the collision. "But she did come in cleats up and got me pretty good. It hurt when it happened but I'll be ok."

Up a man for the entire second half with a 2-0 lead, the Pride played more of a possession game, not really going for goal all that often. Atlanta, down in goals, and players, looked to be conceding the win, and played without a sense of urgency.

Atlanta's only threat at scoring in the second half after Ali Riley made a dangerous tackle on the Beat's Mami Yamaguchi, giving Atlanta a direct free kick from about 25 yards out in the 71st minute. Aya Miyama took the free kick, bending it over the Gold Pride wall and heading for the upper-90 but Barnhart leaped and deflected the ball off the crossbar and out for a corner that amounted to nothing.

Gold Pride sealed the deal in the 86th minute. Play was halted on a Yamagughi hand ball just outside the Pride box. Buehler tapped the free kick to Barnhart who sent a ball long that went over everyone. Marta ran onto the ball, faked out Solo and slid it into the open net for her second goal off Solo, fourth of the week and a 3-0 lead. Barnhart was awarded the assist, her first offensive contribution in her pro career.

"I saw Marta starting to go and the defense was a little bit high," said Barnhart "I saw the opportunity developing but wasn't sure if the ball would get through; we got a good bounce and Marta was able to get in behind the defense and get the goal."

For good measure, the Pride scored again in the 89th minute. Boxx played a great through ball into Sinclair who, instead of shooting at net (one on one with Solo), elected to pass to O'Hara, who pounded in the Pride's fourth goal, which it would take to victory.

FC Gold Pride will host the Washington Freedom on Sunday, July 11, in the WPS game of the week. Kickoff at Pioneer Stadium on the campus of Cal State University-East Bay is 3 p.m. If you can't make the game, watch on TV on Fox Soccer Channel.

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