By DAN LAULETTA
On March 29, 2009 Allison Falk took her unlikely place in WPS history when she got on the end of Aya Miyama’s free kick to score the first goal in league history. There was much discussion leading up the Inaugural Match as to who would score the historic goal, but much of the centered on Falk’s teammate Marta and Freedom stars Abby Wambach. Few expected Falk to be the one who would sign the ball that was to be shipped off to the Hall of Fame. (Falk says she never signed the ball and the Hall of Fame has since closed its doors.)
Sunday in Boston, Falk did it again. As Lori Lindsey lined up a free kick for the Philadelphia Independence, Falk made a back post run and struck a perfect header—far more perfect than the 2009 goal that may or may not have gone off Freedom goalkeeper Briana Scurry—past Ashley Phillips for the first goal in franchise history. Making the feat all the more unlikely is that she ended the season having played 16 matches and did not score again nor did she register an assist.
“First goal last year, first goal this year,” she said with a smile after the match. “I’m just sorry I couldn’t score a second one this game.”
The Independence needed a second goal to avoid settling for a 1-1 draw against the Boston Breakers, who went ahead five minutes earlier when Kelly Smith’s free kick hit the wall and changed direction, turning itself into a perfectly placed shot that beat Karina LeBlanc inside the left post.
The Independence have now drawn their first two matches following a 0-0 deadlock against the Atlanta Beat to open the season.
“They have a good, experienced team. You could probably see that we’re the expansion team,” admitted Independence coach Paul Riley. “Our organization is probably still three or four weeks away.”
There will be challenges ahead as Heather Mitts was taken out at halftime and Riley later admitted she probably was not ready to play as she recovers from a hip injury. Late in the match, Jen Buczkowski took her second booking of the match resulting in a red card which rules her out of this weekend’s match against the Freedom.
Here is how the rest of Week 2 shook out:
Chicago Red Stars 1, Saint Louis Athletica 1
Casey Nogueira joined Lauren Cheney as rookies to have hit the scoresheet, cancelling out Lori Chalupny’s goal to give the Red Stars a 1-1 draw in their home opener. Chalupny put Athletica on top early when she cleaned up a rebound from sprawling goalkeeper Jillian Loyden. Nogueira’s first professional goal was assisted by Katie Chapman who was lucky to find Nohueira all alone on the left side of the penalty box. The finish was picture perfect. The same cannot be said for Nogueira’s finish in the final minutes on a chance that could have earned the full points for the Red Stars.
FC Gold Pride 3, Sky Blue FC 1
FC Gold Pride’s offense clicked to the tune of three goals with Kelley O’Hara and Christine Sinclair running circles around a Sky Blue FC defense that was without left back Meghan Schnur. O’Hara assisted on goals by Christine Sinclair and Marta and Sinclair scored another cleaning up a rebound of Camille Abily’s cross. O’Hara, the Hermann Trophy Award winner and No. 3 overall draft pick, has looked outstanding in two starts for Gold Pride. Lauren Kalmari scored Sky Blue’s only goal.
Washington Freedom 3, Atlanta Beat 1
Abby Wambach scored once and assisted on two other goals leading the Freedom to their first win of the season, 3-1 over the expansion Beat. Ramona Bachmann scored the Beat’s first ever goal to tie the match 1-1 but before they could enjoy it Homare Sawa gave the Freedom the lead back. Christie Welsh also scored for Washington. The Beat and Red Stars are pulling up the rear of the table at 0-1-1.