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September 28, 2010 > Gold Pride finish dominating season with WPS Championship

Gold Pride finish dominating season with WPS Championship

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo

HAYWARD, Calif. -- In front of a near-sellout crowd of 5,228 at Pioneer Stadium in Hayward, FC Gold Pride was able to complete its worst-to-first turnaround with a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Independence in the WPS Championship on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 26.

Key off season acquisition Marta, the four-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, as well as Women's Professional Soccer's golden boot winner (most goals) and Most Valuable Player in 2010, added to her individual accolades by being named the MVP of the championship.

Marta tallied two assists, as well as a goal in stoppage time of the second half as the Pride ran away with the championship -- not unlike how they ran away with the league (most goals, least goals against, best goal differential and a 17-point lead over second in the standings).

Members of the Pride's last-place team in 2009, Christine Sinclair (2) and Kandace Wilson, recorded the other goals, helping the Pride capture the Bay Area's first championship since the 1994 San Francisco 49ers were on top of the NFL.

First Half

After eight minutes up possession soccer, it was the Gold Pride that got the first chance of the match. Marta intercepted a pass out of the Independence backfield and passed it to Christine Sinclair's feet.

Sinclair fed Marta a square ball and the Brazilian national ducked through two defenders before laying a pass off in the box that went through everyone and out of danger.

It wasn't until the 14th minute that the WPS Championship had a shot on goal, that coming from Marta.

Gold Pride had a great buildup from the back which finished with Ali Riley making a run from her left back position into the box and feeding Marta whose shot went into the hands of Val Henderson in the Philly net.

The pressure caught up with Philadelphia in the 17th minute. Shannon Boxx sent a cross to the far post from the right flank to Marta. After collecting the ball, Marta took two shots from inside the six that Henderson stonewalled.

Henderson's second shot bounced to the top of the box for Tiffeny Milbrett whose shot was kicked off the line by Nikki Krzysik. Camille Abily got the clearance and shot for the far post, but Henderson kick saved that.

For the Pride, a fifth shot proved to be the lucky strike. Henderson's kicksave went right to Sinclair who hit it in the open net.

Kandace Wilson came up from her right defender position and picked a good time for her first WPS goal. Wilson fed Marta at midfield and continued her run and Marta fed her inside the box.

Allison Falk had position on the ball, but Wilson out-muscled Falk and hit a shot first time past an oncoming Henderson to the near post for a 2-nil lead.

Philadelphia had its first shot on goal in the 31st minute. Holmfridur Magnusdottir took a strike for the upper 90 that Nicole Barnhart caught with ease.

Another one of the Gold Pride players from last year's last-place club almost added a third goal in the 35th minute. Boxx made her way into the box and found Milbrett who rifled a shot, but Henderson punched the ball over the net.

Through 45 minutes, the Pride held a 2-0 edge.

Second Half

In just the second minute of the second half, the 47th minute, Boxx and Milbrett had shots on goal. Marta set up Boxx at the top of the box and she took a shot that Henderson deflected away.

Milbrett got the rebound and hit it off the post, and her follow-up shot was gobbled up by Henderson.

Sinclair blew the game open for the Pride in the 53rd minute with her second goal of the match.

Marta, with her patented fancy footwork, made her way into the box and squared a pass across the six where the Canadian national tapped it in.

Kelley O'Hara got into the match, coming back from a slight tear of the hamstring suffered on Sept. 11. She got on the stat sheet in the 75th minute with a shot on target that Henderson dove to save.

Danesha Adams got Philadelphia's first real chance of the second 45 in the 78th minute. Adams got behind the Pride defense, but with just Barnhart to beat, her shot sailed over the bar.

Wilson made a couple more runs up the field before it was all said and done, and it paid off.

In the 87th minute, the two-year Pride veteran -- who missed most of 2009 with an injury -- took a shot from outside of the box that beat Henderson. Unfortunately for Wilson, she couldn't tally her second WPS goal, as the ball clanged off the crossbar.

But in stoppage time, Wilson was able to add an assist to her stats when she made the final run of the match up the right flank and sent a cross to Marta who batted the ball home for the 4-0 lead just before the final whistle blew.

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