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Game 1: Force holds Sky Blue scoreless in weather-shortened match

June 24, 2009 | 11:29 pm 1
By George Tanner

Force_2
Force midfielder Maggie Doe, right, closes in on NY/NJ Sky Blue striker Natasha Kai during the first half of their friendly on Wednesday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. 
(photo by Jonathan Ingraham/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

 

Mother Nature gave them lemons.

The Colorado Force, with the help of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park complex and staff, made lemonade.

In its long-planned third annual Women’s Soccer Celebration, the Force was taking on Women’s Professional Soccer’s NY/NJ Sky Blue FC on Wednesday at Dick’s. But after 30 minutes of play, officials spotted lightning from a huge storm approaching from the west. Players from both sides headed to the locker room. And waited.

And waited.

And after nearly 90 minutes of waiting, the skies stopped threatening. But the situation hadn’t improved.

The match began at 4:30. The stoppage happened about 5. After an hour and a half, it was 6:30. The Rapids were set to host FC Dallas at 7:30, and the numbers just didn’t add up to the completion of the women’s game.

But Dick’s is surrounded by dozens of soccer fields. And somebody with the Force or Dick’s or the Rapids got the idea of finishing the exhibition on one of the outer fields (Field 19, to be exact).

So the teams cobbled together a second 30-minute half and settled for a scorless draw in front of about 2,000 fans who trekked out of the stadium and across the east parking lot to watch.

“It was something that we’ve been looking forward to for six, eight months,” Force coach Craig Deacon said. “The girls were very excited to play. It’s a great measure to play against a pro team and see where you’re at. Whether we won or lost didn’t matter. We managed to get that experience and enjoy the day. To come away 0-0 is fine with us; we could’ve even been one up.”

Starting striker Lisa Franke had the best scoring opportunity of the game, in the 19th minute.

She intercepted a ball and tapped back to midfielder Lisa Kosena, who was in a better position to distribute. Kosena found Nikki Marshall on the left wing. Marshall pushed forward up the wing, cut inside and played a slick vertical pass through traffic to Franke.

Franke shot, but Sky Blue forward Julianne Sitch, coming the whole way back to the goal to pitch in on defense, blocked the shot. Even then, though, the ball appeared to have just enough roll left in it that it might cross the goal line. Sky Blue goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, however, rolled toward the ball and slapped a big gloved palm on the top of the ball and stopped it in its tracks, right atop the white line.

Sky Blue had more possession in the first half and had more chances to score, but none was as close as Franke’s chance. Starting Force goalkeeper Maria Del Guercio had the save of the game: Sky Blue captain Heather O’Reilly took a straight-on, close-in shot, but Del Guercio pushed it wide.

The second half, on Field 19, was more even.

The closest either team came to scoring was a Sky Blue opportunity created by Canadian international Kelly Parker, but Force fullback Mo Smunt kept the sheet clean with a big clearance.

“I knew we’d only be playing 25 minutes or whatever, so I was doing anything I could not to let the other team score,” Smunt said.

She said the delay may have helped the Force because Field 19 is a little more like the team’s regular home, the Loveland Sports Park, than the wide stadium pitch of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“The field’s definitely smaller, which helped us because they’re a fast team,” Smunt said. “We calmed down and our nerves settled and we just started playing.”

CAYLA DEACON UPDATE: Force General Manager Cayla Deacon was released from Poudre Valley Hospital on Monday night after doctors diagnosed her with a blood clot. The team believes the clot developed after a collision between Deacon and one of the Pali Blues players on June 14. Deacon is recuperating, feels normal and even attended Wednesday’s festivities. However, her recovery is expected to take as long as six months, and her season with the Force is over. “Cayla is the glue of the team” Force managing partner Amy Snider said. “She’ll continue to lead the team, but just not on the field.”

GUEST PLAYERS: The Force invited some guest players to be part of the match against the WPS team: Bri Young from Real Colorado, Michela Paridiso of the Ohio Premier team and Kate Russell and Danielle Foxhoven, who are teammates of Emmalie Pfankuch on the Nike Rush club team.

FORCE STARTERS: Maria Del Guercio, Monica Dolinsky, Zoe Avner, Shay Powell, Lisa Kosena, Maggie Doe, Jestina Orlando, Nikki Marshall, Estelle Johnson, Sally Cole, Lisa Franke.

SKY BLUE STARTERS: Bardsley, Christie Rampone, Jen Buczkowski, Natasha Kai, Heather O’Reilly, Megan Schnur, Noelle Keselica, Keeley Dowling, Christie Shaner, Kacey White, Sitch.

blockquote-tiny-georgie-mug George Tanner is a former writer and editor for the Rocky Mountain News; the Greeley Tribune; The Daily Independent of Ridgecrest, Calif.; the Durango Herald; and the Boulder Daily Camera. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and an associate professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver. E-mail him at [email protected].

To advertise on Colorado Soccer Now, e-mail George at [email protected].

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One Comment »

  • espihir said:

    Banished to the outer fields ;(

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