October 9, 2016
COMEBACK DRAMA QUEENS
Flash overcome late deficit, Spirit to win NWSL crown in a shootout
HOUSTON -- During the National Women's Soccer League regular season, the Western New York Flash forged a reputation as a team that wouldn't die.
No deficit was safe with that side.
On Sunday night, the Flash demonstrated why -- in spectacular fashion -- in the NWSL championship game.
Lynn Williams, the regular-season MVP and Golden Boot winner, scored a dramatic equalizer, heading home a left-wing cross from Jessica McDonald to lift the Flash into a 2-2 deadlock four minutes into stoppage time of the second extratime period. That forced a shootout as another hero then emerged at BBVA Stadium.
Goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo, the final MVP, made three saves in the shootout as the Flash won the shootout, 3-2.
D'Angelo denied PKs from U.S. international Ali Krieger, Tori Huster and Diana Matheson, who took the final attempt. Christine Nairn and Katie Stengel tallied penalties for Washington.
Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Hinkle and Williams converted their shots for the Flash in the tie-breaker, the former putting home the game-winning penalty to the lower left of Washington keeper Kelsey Wys. McDonald placed her attempt over the cross bar and Wys denied Sam Mewis' attempt.
Western New York head coach and Bay Shore, N.Y. resident Paul Riley, who was forced to watch the game from a suite because he was dismissed during the 4-2 semifinal win over the Portland Thorns last Sunday. He was allowed onto the field after D'Angelo made her final save.
The third time was the charm for Riley as he directed the Philadelphia Independence to back-to-back finals in the defunct Women's Professional Soccer, but lost.
Before D'Angelo's heroics, there was plenty of drama in the preceding 120 minutes.
U.S. international Crystal Dunn, who was not used by Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra in the shootout, struck for both Washington goals.
Some 62 seconds into the first extratime period, the 24-year-old Dunn snapped a 1-1 deadlock as she took a pass from Krieger on the right side of the penalty area and smacked a 14-yard shot off her left foot past D'Angelo to the near post. It was the fastest goal in extratime in NWSL history.
Dunn, the 2015 league MVP and Golden Boot winner, tallied but twice during the regular season in a new role for the Spirit. A member of the U.S. women's national team, the Rockville Centre, N.Y. was coached by Riley when she played with the Albertson Express of the Long Island Junior Soccer League.
Only nine minutes into the match, Dunn scored against her former youth coach, Paul Riley. She ran onto a long ball out of the back. D'Angelo came out of the net and Dunn maneuvered around her and placed a shot from the right side into an empty goal for a 1-0 Washington lead.
Five minutes later, Mewis equalized for the Flash, taking advantage of tackle from a teammate. Williams motored down the left wing before finding Mewis outside of the penalty area. Mewis then unleashed a shot from atop the penalty arc past keeper Kelsey Wys for a 1-1 deadlock.
It was Mewis' second playoff goal and seventh overall on the season.