Washington Spirit vs. Western New York Flash: Final Score 1-1, controversy erupts in the box

Jamie Sabau

For 85 minutes of play, both teams failed to find the back of the net. A quick change of events in the closing minutes resulted in both teams finding a goal in a 1-1 tie.

Samantha Kerr was Western New York Flash's pivotal player in the match for her persistence allowed Wambach to gain more attention on the ball with countless crosses and headers. Unfortunately both teams unraveled in the final 20 minutes of the match as they could not connect with their teammates, producing uncoordinated passes and ineffective set pieces. The Flash's first goal of the year came as Wambach headed a pass over to an unsupervised Kerr, who headed the ball into the upper right hand corner of the net. The tables quickly turned on the Flash, who simply can't catch a break early this season, as they were refused a celebration due to a penalty kick that was awarded to the Spirit. Diana Matheson finished from the spot to level the match at 1-1.

The first half of play was fair on both ends as the first 20 minutes were played to the Spirit's strength, and the final 25 minutes featured chances for the Flash to score. However, the Spirit's defense and midfield was excellent and Matheson shined throughout the game. It was clear in the first half that midfield combinations were key for the Spirit, while the Flash much of the attacks relied on Kerr getting the ball up the field to find Wambach in the box.

Washington had the early chances, starting with a 7th minute run by Ali Krieger that translated into a deep cross which was narrowly missed by Matheson. Shortly after, Matheson had a fantastic chance to get the Spirit on the scoreboard as she broke through the Flash defense following a chip from Julia Roberts in the midfield. She had a shot, but it went wide of the far post.

The Spirit denied the Flash of set pieces early, but they finally created a chance from a dead ball after 20 minutes. Wambach received a promising chance in the 6-yard box following a promising cross from Kerr and got her head on the ball, but she got too far under it and hit the crossbar.

Ashlyn Harris had a few extraordinary saves in the first half as she blocked opportunities by Kerr, Wambach and Adriana. Assisting Harris in the back-line was Robyn Gayle who made life difficult for Wambach as she consistently obstructed her. Wambach was regularly marked by two or three players at a time. McCall Zerboni was closed down by two defenders regularly during the match, while the Flash gave similar treatment to Matheson.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Harris made a gorgeous save from a fierce Wambach header. It was another result of the Kerr-Wambach partnership, but Wambach was unable to direct her shot past the Spirit keeper.

The Flash opened the second half nicely, with Wambach placing a nice pass into the path of Kerr, helping her surge past the Washington defense, but unfortunately she put the ensuing shot over the crossbar.

Krieger was on point Saturday for the Spirit as she cleared many crosses intended for Wambach; a vital clearance in the second half saw Krieger just barely cut out a cross aimed at the Flash's towering striker. Harris was also key early in the second half, cutting out a number of balls that came into her area.

The game calmed down as the half wore on, with neither side producing much, save for one incident. In the 63rd minute the Flash voiced a hand ball claim against Matheson outside of the penalty area, but the referee disagreed.

In the final 10 minutes, the game picked up. Tori Huster received a yellow card in the 84th minute for a hard challenge on Wambach. She was knocked to the ground and shortly after the game was called it was evident that Wambach was still recovering from the collision. The Flash and the Spirit made some subsitutuions in the second half as Vicki Di Martino came on for Zerboni in the 80th minute, and Caroline Miller come on for McCarty in the 84th minute.

The moment the Flash have been waiting for since the season kicked off arrived in the 85th minute, as Kerr received a pass from Wambach and headed the ball into the upper right hand corner past Harris. The Flash's thoughts of a victory were short lived.

Matheson surged forward in the a minute later and found Jasmyne Spencer in the box . Unfortunately for Western New York, Spencer was taken down and the Spirit were awarded a penalty kick. Wambach was furious and sprinted 80 yards to the other side of the pitch to protest the call, but to no avail. Matheson stepped up and drilled a finish to the lower left corner, tying the game at 1-1.

Both teams reset and appeared to play the remainder of the half on fumes. The Flash were presented with a golden opportunity in stoppage time that was squandered by Wambach. She chested the ball brought it down to her feet, but her touch didn't get her into a good shooting position. She tried to square for Kerr, but the Flash winger wasn't ready for the pass and missed their best chance at a winner.

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