As if the Boston Breakers/Philadelphia Independence match-up wasn’t interesting enough. This time there were no egregious fouls, penalty kicks or cracking goals but there was – or appeared to be – a hand ball. With the score level at 1-1 after regular time, Independence striker Danesha Adams seems to have batted the ball in with her hand in the 103′. Neither Boston Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher nor the Breakers’ typically attentive defense seemed to make much of a defensive play on Adams’ attempt, perhaps suggesting that knew it was a blatant hand ball and felt it was going to be called as such. But it wasn’t, the goal stood and it sees the Independence through to the 2010 WPS Championship game.
The Boston Breakers can’t necessarily feel completely hard done, as the team missed a glorious opportunity nine minutes later. Breakers’ substitute Kasey Moore thwacked an attempt off the crossbar and the rebound fell to the feet of an open Alex Scott who had an unobstructed shot on goal. She whiffed the effort, however, and the Breakers couldn’t conjure up any more second chances.
The home side started well, pinging the ball across the field and widening play. The Independence put immense pressure on Boston’s central players but it didn’t seem to mute the Breakers’ attack. Fabiana and Kristine Lilly were instrumental in Boston’s lively flank play in the first half. In the 22′ Lilly sent a ball sailing towards Lauren Cheney who ably chipped her shot over a hesitant Val Henderson.
The Independence rose to the challenge and answered back, however. In the 29′ Amy Rodriguez dispatched a pass from midfield into the feet of Caroline Seger who planted a shot into the right side of the net for the equalizer.
The intensity resumed for the rest of the first half but seemed to simmer in the second. Philadelphia’s cagey midfield effectively shut down Kelly Smith, immensely limiting Boston’s attack. Fabiana was peculiarly subbed off in the 72′ and Boston lost yet another dimension in offense (Jenn Hildreth was 100% right about this). Philadelphia’s defense remained water-tight when tested. The Independence won back and kept possession in the second half, just as the team had against Washington in the WPS First Round.
The game seemed destined to creep into extra time. The match’s frenetic tempo had slowed down to a waltz