Amy Rodriguez needed just one goal to put behind her a few stretch, completing Philadelphia's semifinal victory over Florida's magicJack to send the Independence to their second straight Women's Professional Soccer title game.
Rodriguez's 81st-minute goal in Saturday's 2-0 victory, which set up a showdown this weekend in Rochester, N.Y., with regular-season champ Western New York Flash, was just her third in a difficult season.
After a breakthrough, 12-goal campaign in 2010, she made just 10 appearances for Philly this season, starting six games and seeing only 641 minutes of action. Rodriguez's time was whittled by her duties with the U.S. national team and at the Women's World Cup, but the Independence's go-to forward last season was eclipsed by new arrivals Veronica Boquete -- WPS's Player of the Year -- and Tasha Kai, whose superb strike at the start of the second half provided the lead over magicJack.
The former USC All-American from Lake Forest is finding her game again, just in time.
“Amy wasn't in great form,” Philadelphia coach Paul Riley told ESPNW after Saturday's victory. “Amy, in the past few weeks, has worked on her game a lot. Today you could see.”
The Independence lost to Bay Area-based, since-dismantled FC Gold Pride, 4-0, in last year's WPS final -- all three goalscorers, Christine Sinclair, Marta and Kandace Wilson, are with the first-year Flash now -- and that defeat spurs them into Saturday's meeting with the first-year Flash (Fox Sports West, 1 p.m. PT).
“We were disappointed in ourselves” after last year's defeat in Hayward, Rodriguez told ESPNW. “We had worked so hard during the season, and then that last game was unfortunate. This game was a steppingstone. Our goal is to make it to the championship and, obviously, to bring home the trophy.”
Local players in Saturday's final:
WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH
D Whitney Engen (Rolling Hills Estates), Peninsula HS
M Beverly Goebel (Moreno Valley), Moreno Valley HS
F Alex Morgan (Diamond Bar), Diamond Bar HS
D Ali Riley (Pacific Palisades), Harvard-Westlake School
D Kandace Wilson (Los Angeles), Walnut HS and Cal State Fullerton
M McCall Zerboni (San Clemente), San Clemente HS and UCAL
Former L.A. Sol: M/D Brittany Bock, F Marta
F/M Danesha Adams (Shaker Heights, Ohio), UCLA
D Lauren Barnes (Upland), Upland HS and UCLA
M Tina DiMartino (Massapequa, N.Y.), UCLA
G Val Henderson (Orinda, Calif.), UCLA
F Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest), Santa Margarita Catholic HS and USC
Former L.A. Sol: D Allison Falk