Photo by ISIphotos.com
By CHRISTA MANN
The highs and lows of the Women's Pro Soccer season were ever so present in the first WPS Championship. Underdog against favorite, good call or questionable, a red card and early goal made the difference in this game.
Sky Blue FC (NJ) -1, L.A. Sol – 0, but did the better team really win? Many people are still saying no.
The L.A. Sol was the best team of the year with the better players and the better record. They earned a place in the final based on an strong regular season performance, and hosted a the championship game which they should have walked away with. Two weeks off may have been the problem, but Sol captain Shannon Boxx mentioned (in the press conference) that the team was playing well over those two weeks off and had scrimmaged a couple of teams including a skilled boys squad.
Sky Blue FC was the most underrated opponent of the season, yet time after time it pulled off results. Whether resilience, talent, luck or perseverance got them through, SBFC pulled off some big wins against the best teams in the league. The final was no different as their improbable run continued.
Here are the highlights:
The game changing decision was a questionable red card against L.A. defender Allison Falk. The referee's decision was that Falk denied Natasha Kai an obvious goal scoring opportunity and that intent was not a deciding factor. From her perspective, Kai had a chance to shoot on the next touch or so but was prevented when Falk made contact.
From the initial view of the foul, a recovering Shannon Cox appears to be the last L.A. defender; however maybe she was too far to contribute. At any rate, the sequence shows Falk with the contact, Cox coming over to help, and Kai exaggerating fall.
Even with the change in dynamics, L.A. had chance after chance in the second half with some the fresh legs from its subs. The best one of the day was replacing Chinese international Han Duan with Lyndsey Patterson. Patterson read Marta's play well and chased down balls that Duan was previously watching go out of bounds. The L.A. Sol's second half was rally seemed sure to bring a goal, but SBFC coach/captain strategically packed it in.
SBFC was the Cinderella story of WPS, and what better way to end than with the first ever WPS Championship. There is no doubt that SBFC fought a much tougher road to the final, but its players' persevered and their merit was truly rewarded.
The L.A. Sol were Regular Season Champs and the most highly-regarded team of the year. They played a very direct second half but did not prevail in the ultimate David vs. Goliath WPS match-up. The Sol played direct for most of the second half but may have been more successful if they played straight to Marta's feet.
In the end, Sky Blue FC scored one and the L.A. had zero. The Jersey club played with every bit of heart and proved why they have come so far this season. It's great to say that they won from believing but it's disappointing to say that people believed in the team's will more than it believed in the team's talent.
What did you think about the final? Was it a red card? Share your thoughts below