Photo by J. Clappstar
By Ashley Dougherty
Prior to the match, the Sounders had racked up a total of 28 points in twelve games to earn a second place spot in the Western Conference standings. The Strikers, on the other hand, sat in second-to-last place with a total of 11 points during their twelve games played. Having a more impressive record at home, the Strikers were hoping their last home match would come as a success against the powerhouse Sounders.On a warm Friday night from Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College in Los Angeles, the LA Strikers hosted the Seattle Sounders Women as the regular season of the W-League began winding down. This was not the first time these two Western Conference teams faced off during the 2012 season; just one month ago, the Sounders Women earned a shutout against the Strikers in Tukwila, Washington. While the Sounders didn’t pull out another shutout, they were once again crowned victorious as they defeated the home team by a score of 5-2.
Strikers: Jorgeusen; Cabrera, Flemming, Warner, Ronau; LaBonta, Munoz, Murilo, Stockdale; Bell, Beard
Sounders: Hultin; Frederick, Smith, Cox, Sittauer; Stanton, Perez, Elston, Roberts; Patterson, Beahan
The scoring frenzy of the match began in the fifth minute. Sounders forward Lyndsey Patterson took a touch to the side and beat Strikers goalkeeper Nicoline Jorgeusen to send the ball straight into the back of the net. Not giving up, the home team answered with the all-important equalizer just two minutes later. Midfielder Caitlin Munoz netted in a fantastic header that sailed just over goalkeeper Katie Hultin to put the Strikers on the scoreboard. After facing a brutal showdown against the Sounders during their last matchup, it became apparent that the Strikers didn’t want to see another similar result, especially in front of their home crowd.
With the match tied up just seven minutes in, both teams were struggling to get decent first touches on the ball. A few minutes later, the Sounders calmed down and a fourteenth minute goal by forward Allie Beahan sent the Sounders into the lead once again. The play began with Mexican National Team star Veronica Perez. Perez found Beahan, who then turned to Annie Sittauer. Sittauer crossed the ball to Beahan, who finished the play by netting in her first goal of the season.
In the 24th minute, the Strikers earned a free kick near the midfield. The ball fell to the top of the box but was headed away by the Sounders. Three minutes later, Caitlin Munoz attempted a shot that was relatively easy for Hultin to save.
A Sounders corner kick in the 32nd minute almost caused more danger for the Strikers. The corner was taken by Perez, who placed a great ball in the box to Annie Sittauer. Sittauer’s shot sailed just over the crossbar, giving the Strikers a moment of relief.
Goal scorer Allie Beahan was called for a foul in the 40th minute after colliding with Strikers defender Rachel Flemming. Despite her young age, Beahan has proven herself to be a very physical and fearless player during the 2012 W-League season. Fortunately for the young University of Washington player, her physicality wasn’t the only factor on point tonight. In the 43rd minute, Beahan completed the brace by scoring a goal in the upper corner that sailed right past Jorgeusen.
The first half ended with the Strikers nabbing an important corner kick, which could’ve eliminated their two goal deficit. The ball was played long but proved to be an easy save for Hultin. Subsequently following two minutes of stoppage time, the first half ended. After 45 minutes, the Sounders Women led the LA Strikers by a score of 3-1.
The second half of the match started with a bang. Substituting midfielder Sophie Reiser into the match proved to be an excellent decision for the Sounders Women. Reiser added to the goal scoring frenzy and gave the Sounders a three goal lead.
The first and only yellow card of the match was shown to Sounders substitute, Megan Manthey in the 53rd minute after the referee determined that Manthey’s high boot was a danger. Adding more frustration for the visiting team, a penalty kick was given to the Strikers following a Sounders handball in the box. Caitlin Munoz stepped up to the line and tallied a second goal for the home team.
The Sounders Women earned a penalty kick of their own in the 73rd minute after Manthey was pushed from behind. Veronica Perez took the kick, which sailed right into the net. Perez’s goal put the Sounders up 5-2.
Despite being up by three goals, the Sounders were showing no signs of stopping. In the 89th minute, everyone pushed forward, forming an aggressive attack. The ball was intercepted by Strikers star Caitlin Munoz, who took the ball down the field, earning the Strikers a corner. The 90th minute Strikers corner fell to the near post but was knocked away by the visiting team. Moments later, the final whistle blew. The Sounders Women earned another three points after defeating the LA Strikers by a score of 5-2.
Both the Strikers and the Sounders have one more regular season game before the W-League playoffs begin. On Sunday, the Sounders take on the first place Pali Blues. During their last meeting, Pali defeated the Sounders 2-0. The Sounders will once again be without their U.S. Women’s National Team stars for this matchup. Adding to their list of hinders, star defender Kate Deines (who sat out this past match) will likely sit out the next match due to a minor concussion. In order to pick up another three points, the Sounders Women certainly have their work cut out for them against the undefeated Pali team.
Next up for the LA Strikers is a Sunday match against Santa Clarita Blue Heat. Santa Clarita currently has thirteen points while the Strikers have eleven. A win against the Blue Heat would bring the Strikers up one place in the Western Conference standings. These two teams faced off in May, with Santa Clarita defeating the Strikers by a score of 4-1. If the Strikers play tactically smart and work on getting great first touches, Sunday’s battle will be an exciting last season match.