By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Washington Freedom forward Abby Wambach lined up for a penalty kick late in the second half last night with an opportunity to give the Freedom its first lead of the season -- and to score her first goal of the Women's Professional Soccer season.
Instead, Boston Breakers goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill denied Wambach's bid to the lower left corner. And in the following nine minutes Washington allowed two goals to let the game slip away in a 3-1 loss in front of 4,232 at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.
Wambach's missed penalty kick encapsulated the frustration for a Washington team that in the past two weeks has turned in two stellar performances and created a number of scoring chances but has failed to capitalize on those opportunities.
The moment also added to the early disappointment for Wambach, one of the country's top goal scorers, who continues to work back from a broken leg suffered in a pre-Olympic friendly against Brazil on July 16.
"She has to be patient just like we have to be patient for her," Freedom Coach Jim Gabarra said. "It is frustrating. You know the goals are going to come. But she still has a ways to go physically. And as frustrating as it she still has got to realize that there's still a ways to go with her physically and once she gets one and gets that gorilla off her back she'll probably take a little bit of the pressure off herself."
Washington (0-2-1) had done well to rally after falling behind, 1-0, on a 56th minute penalty kick from Boston's Kelly Smith.
It took the Freedom just four minutes to draw even, with Lori Lindsey finding the upper right corner with a left-footed shot from about 20 yards out.
But after a hand ball in the box gave Washington a penalty kick in the 72nd minute, and Wambach's bid for the lead was turned away, the game quickly fell apart. Boston defender Alex Scott lofted a cross from the right sideline into the box four minutes later and forward Christine Latham's header just cleared the outstretched hand of Freedom goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who got a touch on the ball but not enough at the far post, and Boston took the 2-1 lead.
Five minutes after that, Angela Hucles blasted a right-footed shot to the far post from about 25 yards out to seal the outcome.
"Kristin's save was a huge turning point for us," Hucles said. "We saw Washington was gaining a little bit of momentum, trying to get back into it . . . and with her save it just kind of switched the momentum. We were able to push into our attack a bit more."
Boston (2-1-0) opened the scoring on a 56th minute penalty kick from Smith.
The Breakers' Amy Rodriguez served a weighted ball to the far side into the path of Hucles, whose well-timed run freed her just behind the Freedom defense. Scurry charged out of her net and as Hucles looked down for her second touch, Scurry collided with her, leaving no question for the referee.
Despite the blatant foul, the call did have some controversy after the referee seemed to give advantage to Boston when the ball dropped in front of a Breakers player, who lined up a shot. When the offering was cleared off the line by a Freedom defender, the referee whistled and pointed to the spot. And Smith calmly buried the penalty into the right side of the net to make it 1-0.
But just four minutes later, Lindsey evened things. And though it seemed Washington would rally for the win, for the second consecutive week they left the field with regrets.
"You don't hope [the goals are] going to come you have to believe it's going to come," Freedom Coach Jim Gabarra said. "It's part of the beauty and the tragedy of this wonderful game. That you can be the better team and still lose. And you can lose badly. People will look at the box score and say Boston killed them. Not if you were watching that game. I thought we were the better team. Just like last week you don't always get what you deserve."