Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Controversial goal sends Independence to WPS championship

Thierry Henry and Diego Maradona, meet Danesha Adams.

Controversial goal sends Independence to WPS championship

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Thierry Henry and Diego Maradona, meet Danesha Adams.

Adams scored the goal that put the Independence into the WPS championship game with a 2-1 win over Boston in extra time. But Adams' header towards the net appeared to deflect in off her left hand.

The play was certainly controversial. From the angle behind the net, it did not look like there was ball-to-hand contact. But from one of the field-level sideline cameras, it seemed pretty clear. The entire Boston defense was furious, and literally stopped moving after the ball crossed the line. But referee Kerry Seitz did not blow her whistle to signal a foul. Instead, she signaled that the goal was good.

Adams' tally capped off a game full of surreal plays, most notably from the two goalkeepers. In the first half, Independence goalkeeper Val Henderson was repeatedly caught off her line, and was finally punished for it when Lauren Cheney's shot went in off the crossbar in the 22nd minute.

Boston continued to have the majority of possession, but Philadelphia got the equalizer just seven minutes later. Amy Rodriguez played a pass to Caroline Seger on the right side of the 18-yard box, and the Swedish star calmly fired a shot past Alyssa Naeher to tie the score.

In the second half, Naeher somehow managed to come down with whatever condition had been affecting Henderson in the first 45 minutes. The Breakers' goalkeeper prepeatedly strayed off her line as the Independence came forward. Rodriguez could have scored at least twice, but couldn't get shots on target after getting the ball around Naeher.

After 90 minutes, the score stood at 1-1. There weren't too many chances in either extra time period, but the Independence had most of the better play. It certainly had to be hard work for Philadelphia, as their first-round playoff game last Sunday against Washington also went to extra time. But the Independence didn't seem especially fatigued.

Perhaps the spacious confines of Harvard's soccer-specific Soldiers Field helped with that. The Crimson's soccer stadium is 74 yards wide, as opposed to the 65-yard-wide field at the Independence's home, Farrell Stadium. The Breakers usually play in Harvard's football stadium, which also has a narrower pitch than the soccer facility.

So the match looked a lot more like a soccer game than it did a pinball game. It also served as a reminder of how much better the presentation is on television when there aren't gridiron lines all over the place.

The Independence's win was their first in team history over the Breakers. Of the four regular-season meetings, two were draws and two were won by Boston. Next up will be a showdown with Women's Professional Soccer's best team by far, FC Gold Pride, in the WPS championship game Sunday afternoon.

The game will take place at Pioneer Stadium on the campus of California State University-East Bay in Hayward, Calif. Fox Sports Net will have the TV broadcast on its affiliates, starting at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

As there is no official FSN channel in Philadelphia, I don't know yet whether the game will be on TV here. Both Comcast SportsNet and Comcast Network, which air FSN's national broadcasts, have other programming scheduled for the time slot. I'll post information about the local TV broadcast here as soon as I have it.

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Chek out video highlights and the transcript of my live blog from the game below. Should the winning goal have counted?

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