Photo By Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)
A soggy rainy day did not deter the nearly 6000 soccer fans from coming to see the Washington Freedom play the St. Louis Athletica and their favorite home team did not disappoint them.
The game was a nail biter right until the end with both teams fighting hard. At times the game got quite physical, especially by Tina Ellerston. Abby Wambach’s pleas for calls went unanswered by the center referee, but officiating improved as the game progressed.
Athletica won the battle in the midfield, with the Freedom showing extreme poise and patience in creating opportunities. Freedom’s opportunities came from the flanks with Jill Gilbeau making nice runs out of the back and making good decisions with the ball.
Down by a goal, by Brazilian midfielder Daniela within the opening 13 minutes, Freedom scored on a nice ball from Wambach to Gilbeau. Gilbeau had plenty of time and space to make a cross into the box, which was headed into the net by Bompastor.
Athletica responded immediately, by scoring a 2nd goal by Daniela, who took a powerful shot from outside the box. Athletica was up by a goal at half time and the second half started with Freedom replacing Allie Long with Lisa De Vanna.
Freedom continued to pressure and to create opportunities, but goalie Hope Solo held her ground with some very good saves.
Athletica struck again off of a quick counter attack when Aluko dribbled past a Freedom defender with her speed and scored an easy goal on keeper Spisak. Down by two goals and with less than 15 minutes left, De Vanna received a ball from Wambach and headed into the net. Wambach had a good look at the goal and could have taken the shot herself but elected to lob the ball to De Vanna who placed it near post, behind Solo.
Nearing the end of regulation time, Freedom earned a free kick in the defensive third and Cat Whitehill kicked the ball behind the defenders to Bompastor, who was making the run towards the goal. Bompastor headed the ball high enough and with enough spin for the ball to dip into the net.
Freedom continued to pressure during the 6-minute stoppage time, but was forced to settle for a 3-3 tie. The game opened up for Freedom a little bit in the second half, because of injuries to both Daniela and Ellerston. While Daniela dictated the play in the midfield, Ellerston came out very strong defending Wambach. Without Daniela and Ellerston on the field, what appeared to be a sure win turned into a disappointing tie for Athletica.