Monday, July 6, 2015

Independence reach Women's Professional Soccer championship game

The Philadelphia Independence are in the Women's Professional Soccer championship game for the second year in a row after a 2-0 win over magicJack SC in front of 5,410 fans at PPL Park.

Independence reach Women's Professional Soccer championship game

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Natasha Kai celebrates after scoring for the Independence in the 46th minute. (Jonathan Tannenwald/Philly.com)
Natasha Kai celebrates after scoring for the Independence in the 46th minute. (Jonathan Tannenwald/Philly.com)

The Independence finally got to play at PPL Park. (Jonathan Tannenwald/Philly.com)

The Philadelphia Independence are in the Women's Professional Soccer championship game for the second year in a row after a 2-0 win over magicJack SC in front of 5,410 fans at PPL Park.

After a scoreless but entertaining first half, Natasha Kai got the Independence on the board within a minute of the second half kickoff. Kai pounced on a loose ball in the 18-yard box and curled a shot around magicJack goalkeeper Jillian Loyden from the right side.

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Amy Rodriguez capped off the scoring in the 81st minute with a wonderful chip over Loyden from about 20 yards. 

The player of the game for the Independence, at least in my book, was goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. She made eight saves, many in acrobatic fashion, to preserve the shutout. Barnhart also got a little lucky, as magicJack forwards Abby Wambach and Christen Press both missed chances they could have easily finished.

magicJack's best opportunity to score in the game came in the 36th minute. Press spun around a defender near the six-yard line and was one-on-one with Barnhart, but hit the left post. The ball fell to Wambach, who trapped it and somehow shot wide of the right post.

The Independence are now off to Rochester, N.Y., to face the Western New York Flash next Saturday at 4 p.m. It will be a rematch between the Independence and Brazilian star Marta, who led now-defunct FC Gold Pride to last season's title with a 4-0 win over Philadelphia in the Bay Area.

As was the case with today's semi-final, the championship game will air on Fox Sports Net affiliates across the country. But once again, there will be no live broadcast here in Philadelphia - at least as of now. The Comcast Network is scheduled to air the final at 8 p.m Saturday, and Comcast SportsNet will air it at 11 p.m. 

If that changes, I'll be sure to let you know.

Today's game will be broadcast tape-delayed on CSN at 11 p.m. tonight. Check it out, especially to see Rodriguez's goal.

Below you'll find the starting lineups, and a running play-by-play of the game from me and other reporters who were on Twitter throughout the afternoon. I'll have a video up later tonight with postgame interviews.

Philadelphia Independence (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Nicole Barnhart
Defenders: LeighAnn Robinson, Nikki Krzysik (captain), Kia McNeill, Estelle Johnson
Midfielders: Jen Buczkowski, Tina DiMartino, Sinead Farrelly, Veronica Boquete
Forwards: Natasha Kai, Amy Rodriguez

magicJack SC (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Jillian Loyden
Defenders: Marian Dalmy, Christie Rampone (captain), Lydia Vandenbergh, Becky Sauerbrunn
Midfielders: Shannon Boxx, Sophie Schmidt, Megan Rapinoe, Sarah Huffman
Forwards: Christen Press, Abby Wambach (coach)

If you're on a mobile device, click here to read the game updates.

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The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, the National Women's Soccer League, the U.S. men's and women's national teams, and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
Lauren Green Inquirer Staff Writer
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