Wambach leads Washington Freedom past Atlanta Beat, 3-1

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 18, 2010; 10:11 PM

After a season-opening loss April 10, Washington Freedom forward Abby Wambach said she felt she had to take more responsibility in carrying her team to wins.

On Sunday night in front of 2,665 at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Wambach showed she was capable of doing just that, scoring once and assisting on two other goals as the Freedom downed the expansion Atlanta Beat, 3-1.

Wambach poked home a rebound on a Sonia Bompastor free kick in the 41st minute and played two perfect passes in the second half to set up Homare Sawa and Christie Welsh as Washington looked much improved pushing forward.

"I think that I feel like this team is a team I have grown up with," Wambach said. "And I need to make sure I do whatever it takes so we can win games. If I'm not doing my job we're probably not winning games so I kind of re-dedicated myself this week and told the team I was just going to play my heart out, and I think it showed."

While the Freedom (1-1) was better creating chances through the run of play this weekend, it was a restart that gave them their first lead of the young season.

Bompastor hit a low left-footed free kick from 25 yards out that bounced just in front of Atlanta goalkeeper Allison Whitworth, who was unable to collect it cleanly. Wambach followed the shot and was there to poke the ball into the net from a yard out.

After the Beat (0-1-1) equalized two minutes into the second half, the Freedom responded three minutes later. Lene Mykjaland played a ball in to Wambach on top of the box, and the forward played it back with a one-touch pass to Sawa, who hit a one-time shot perfectly into the lower corner to give the Freedom a lead.

Washington capped off the night when Wambach took the ball down the left sideline and fed Welsh into space for a well-executed finish.

The crowd was the smallest ever in the franchise's Women's Professional Soccer history. Washington's smallest crowd last season was 3,123 in a midweek game against the Boston Breakers on July 29, 2009.

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