Flash claim WPS title on penalties

August, 27, 2011

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- There's no getting away from penalty kicks this year in women's soccer, it seems. After three World Cup games, including the final, were decided by penalty shootouts, the Women's Professional Soccer final also crowned its winner in the same fashion. The Western New York Flash defeated the Philadelphia Independence 5-4 in penalties after the match ended tied at one.

"I've been in so many PK shootouts the past few months," Flash rookie forward Alex Morgan said. Her United States squad had two penalty kick games in the World Cup, but came out on the losing end in their second -- in the final against Japan. "Finally came up with a first-place trophy. It feels really good."

The crowd of 10,461 was the largest for a final in WPS' three-year history and marked a strong end to a season that saw a definite boost from the United States' Women's World Cup success.

"I really hope that the fans continue to support us and stick around," Morgan said.

The Flash came into the match as the favorites, having won the regular season and earning an automatic berth into the title game, which they also hosted. They looked on their way to a tough 1-0 win but Independence forward Amy Rodriguez beat Flash goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris between her legs in the 88th minute to tie things up.

Harris redeemed herself in penalties, stopping Philadelphia's fifth from Laura Del Rio, to give the expansion Flash the title.

"It's a great feeling," Harris said. "After the year I've had -- being with the U.S. team and not making the World Cup team. It's such a good feeling. It feels like everything has been worth it."

Flash forward and Canadian international Christine Sinclair was named MVP of the match. Her goal in the 64th minute gave the Flash their brief 1-0 lead, and she converted the second penalty kick as Western New York scored on all five attempts.


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