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WUSA: Freedom, Beat, CyberRays keep pace with home wins
July 28th, 2002 1:47AM

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All three contenders for the WUSA's final two playoff berths captured victories Saturday, but Boston was eliminated from the postseason chase despite rallying to tie first-place Philadelphia.

Washington and Atlanta, in the best position to join Philly and Carolina in the semifinals, gutted out 1-0 home wins. The Freedom beat San Diego on rookie Abby Wambach's ninth goal of the season, and the Beat toppled Carolina on Charmaine Hooper's ninth of the campaign.

Katia grabbed the top spot in the WUSA scoring race with two goals and an assist as San Jose scored twice within a minute to turn a tight game with visiting New York into a 4-1 romp.

Allie Kemp's 90th-minute goal lifted Boston to a 1-1 tie with the visiting Charge, but the result wasn't enough to keep the Breakers' minuscule playoff hopes alive. Had Boston (4-8-7, 19 points) won, it would have been eliminated when Atlanta won later Saturday.

Philadelphia (10-2-5, 35 points) which lost to New York in a midweek game, was unable to clinch its playoff berth, although a win or tie at San Jose on Wednesday will do the trick. The Charge extended its lead in the WUSA standings to two points over Carolina (10-4-3, 33 points) with four games remaining.

In the fight for the other semifinal berths, Washington (8-5-5, 29 points) has a one-point advantage on Atlanta (9-7-1, 28 points) and leads by four over San Jose (7-6-4, 25 points). The Freedom has three games remaining, including a showdown with Atlanta at RFK Stadium on Aug. 4. The Beat and CyberRays have four games remaining.

San Diego (4-9-4, 16 points) remains mathematically alive but with no room for error. For the Spirit to advance, it must wins its final four games, Atlanta would have to lose the remainder of its matches, and San Jose could do no better than draw two of its remaining games.

In Saturday's WUSA action:

Washington 1 San Diego 0: Wambach scored a gorgeous goal in the 67th minute and goalkeeper Siri Mullinix and defender Jen Grubb made big saves to nail down the Freedom's shutout before 24,240 at RFK Stadium. Washington extended its unbeaten streak to six games.

The game was the opener of a MLS/WUSA doubleheader. The New England Revolution beat D.C. United, 1-0, in the nightcap.

Grubb made a frantic run to clear a Shannon MacMillan shot off the goal line in the seventh minute, and Mullinix made three exceptional saves to earn her second shutout of the season.

The goal came from a nice run by Ann Cook, who fed Mia Hamm, who found Wambach inside the box. The forward's blistering shot sailed under the crossbar but over diving keeper Carly Smolak.

Wambach scored Washington's goal on Wednesday in a 1-1 tie with Boston.

San Jose 4 New York 1: Katia expertly finished a Theresa Wagner cross three seconds into the 82nd minute, then set up Pretinha for another goal in the final second of the 82nd minute as the CyberRays turned a tight, one-goal game into a rout before an announced crowd of 7,183 at Spartan Stadium.

Katia netted her 13th and league-leading 14th goals of the season and moved three points ahead of New York's Tiffeny Milbrett and Philadelphia's Marinette Pichon in the WUSA scoring race.

San Jose bolted to a 2-0 lead in the first half, with Lisa Nanez providing a fifth-minute lead (after shots by Katia and Sissi were blocked) and Katia doubling it in the 35th (taking advantage of Christie Pearce's miscue on Christina Bell's lob pass).

Emily Janss, with her seventh goal of the season, halved the deficit in the 66th minute and nearly netted an equalizer 13 minutes later, firing just wide of the post.

Katia finished things off in the 82nd minute, sharply one-timing Wagner's cross from the right into the upper-right corner, then feeding Pretinha against a disheveled Power defense.

Saskia Webber made 13 saves, tying the WUSA record set earlier this season by Carolina's Siri Mullinix. She kept New York (3-4-1, 10 points) in the match with a half-dozen first-class stops.

Milbrett and Anita Rapp played only the second half, and Linda Ormen was left in New York after returning from last weekend's U.S.-Norway match with a sore lower back.

Boston 1 Philadelphia 1: The Charge surrendered a second-half lead for the second time in four days as Kemp's first WUSA goal answered Liu Ailing's strike before 6,017 at Nickerson Field.

Liu, who scored her first goal of the season in Philadelphia's 3-2 loss Wednesday to New York, pounced on a poor clearance by Boston goalkeeper Tracy Ducar and fired the Charge ahead in the 84th minute from 25 yards.

Kemp, who came off the bench in the 84th minute, beat Philly goalkeeper Melissa Moore to the lower-left corner in the 90th minute. Ragnhild Gulbrandsen, picking up her first WUSA point, and Kristine Lilly assisted on the goal. Lilly extended her points streak to eight games, one shy of the record set this season by Carolina's Birgit Prinz and Hege Riise.

Philadelphia was without forward Marinette Pichon, who injured the big toe on her left foot in Wednesday's loss.

Atlanta 1 Carolina 0: Hooper scored a superb goal in the 68th minute and Briana Scurry made five saves to earn her WUSA-best fifth shutout of the season in a physical contest before 6,810 at Herndon Stadium.

The Courage, who had been the league's top offensive club nearly the entire season, sustained its second successive shutout loss and its first defeat to Atlanta in six meetings. Its advantage in the race for a home assignment in the semifinals was trimmed to four points over Washington and five over the Beat.

Hooper's goal followed a long ball from Lisa Krzykowski deep in Atlanta territory. Emily Burt collected the pass near the top of the Courage's box and laid it off for Hooper, who took one touch to the right and blasted the ball to the upper-right corner.

Things turned ugly in stoppage time after Beat defender Sharolta Nonen and Courage forward Birgit Prinz tangled up in a battle for the ball. Prinz was whistled for the foul, and Nonen shoved her, picking up a yellow card.

A minute later, Carolina defender Nel Fettig was cautioned after pulling down an opponent, and Courage captain Tiffany Roberts -- who said she was trying to protect her teammates -- vehemently argued the decision and was shown the yellow card by referee Terry Vaughn.

Roberts continued to argue and was red-carded for ''abusive language.''

SATURDAY'S SUMMARIES

July 27 at Washington

Washington 1 San Diego 0. Goal: Wambach (Hamm, Cook) 67.

Washington -- Mullinix; S. Little, Moore (J. Little, 66), Grubb, Barr; Noftsinger (Cook, 57), Jones, Gerardo, Pu (Zimny, 87); Bai (Hamm, 46), Wambach.

San Diego -- Smolak; Sauer (Tietjen, 59), Fawcett, Tanaka, Pickup; Mascaro, Lindsey (Boxx, 62), Foudy; MacMillan, Fleeting (Rohbock, 75), Kester.

Yellow cards -- San Diego: Pickup 84.

Referee -- Ricardo Salazar. A -- 24,240.

July 27 at San Jose

San Jose 4 New York 1. Goals: Nanez 5, Katia (Bell) 34, Katia (Wagner) 82, Pretinha (Katia) 82; Janss 66.

San Jose -- Beene; Borgman, Bryan, Lindsey, Chastain; Nanez, Pretinha (Eagleson, 87), Venturini-Hoch, Sissi; Bell (Clark, 62; Wagner, 80), Katia.

New York -- Webber; McIntosh (Davey, 46), Raveia, Pearce, Fair; Whelchel, Janss, Lalor (Stauffer, 75), Baumgardt-Yamada (Rapp, 46); Pearman, Mustonen (Milbrett, 46).

Yellow cards -- None.

Referee -- Kari Seitz. A -- 7,183.

July 27 at Boston

Boston 1 Philadelphia 1. Goals: Kemp (Gulbrandsen, Lilly) 90; Liu 84.

Boston -- Ducar; Kluegel, McCann (Kemp, 84), Sobrero, Aldama; Hucles, Borisjuk (Gulbrandsen, 72), Lilly, Wiegmann; Meinert (Dacey, 75), Mellgren (Yohe, 58).

Philadelphia -- Moore; Mitts, Iverson, Tietjen, Benson (Alfiler, 90); Fair (Liu, 63), Zhao, Monroe (Tullock, 46), Connors (Koleski, 58), McDowell; Clemens.

Yellow cards -- None.

Referee -- Misail Tsapos. A -- 6,017.

July 27 at Atlanta

Atlanta 1 Carolina 0. Hooper (E. Burt, Krzykowski) 68.

Atlanta -- Scurry; N. Augustyniak, Krzykowski (Cromwell, 71), Nonen, J. Augustyniak; Bivens (Miller, 46), Serlenga; Sun (Cagle, 58), Sawa; Hooper, Parlow (E. Burt, 46).

Carolina -- Luckenbill; S. Burt, Baxter, Fettig, O'Hanley (Anderson, 58; Wilson, 81); T. Roberts, Riise, Lehn; James (Slaton, 46), Fotopoulos, Prinz.

Yellow cards -- Atlanta: Nonen 91+; Carolina: Prinz 54, Slaton 64, Fettig 92+, T. Roberts 92+.

Red card -- Carolina: T. Roberts 92+.

Referee -- Terry Vaughn. A -- 6,810.

WEDNESDAY'S SUMMARIES

July 24 at Villanova, Pa.

Philadelphia 2 New York 3. Goals: Clemens (L. Fair) 61, Liu (Zhao) 79; Milbrett 83, Janss (Baumgardt-Yamada) 84, Milbrett (Mustonen) 87.

Philadelphia -- Moore; Alfiler (Connors, 90), Tietjen, Iverson, Benson; McDowell, L. Fair, Monroe (Liu, 56), Zhao; Clemens, Pichon (Koleski, 79).

New York -- Webber; R. Fair, Pearce, Whelchel (Rapp, 53), Raveia; McIntosh, Lalor (Baumgardt-Yamada, 71), Davey (Milbrett, 56), Stauffer (Janss, 64); Mustonen, Pearman.

Yellow cards -- Philadelphia: Alfiler 57.

Referee -- Todd Perry. A -- 7,469.

July 24 at Washington

Washington 1 Boston 1. Goals: Wambach (Pu) 25; Borisjuk (Lilly) 56.

Washington -- Mullinix; S. Little, Moore, Grubb, Barr; Cook (Hamm, 46), Jones, Makinen (Gerardo, 25), Pu (Zimny, 88); Wambach, Bai (J. Little, 64).

Boston -- LeBlanc; Kluegel, McCann (Kemp, 85), Sobrero, Aldama; Hucles, Sanchez (Borisjuk, 52), Lilly, Wiegmann (Yohe, 69); Meinert, Mellgren (Gulbrandsen, 83).

Yellow cards -- None.

Referee -- Rachel Woo. A -- 5,847.

STANDINGS
W-L-T Pts GF-GA

1. Philadelphia 10-2-5 35 32-16
2. Carolina 10-4-3 33 31-22
3. Washington 8-5-5 29 28-23
4. Atlanta 9-7-1 28 26-24
5. San Jose 7-6-4 25 30-24
6. Boston 4-8-7 19 31-34
7. San Diego 4-9-4 16 24-34
8. New York 3-14-1 10 27-52

NEXT WEEK'S SCHEDULE
Wednesday, July 31
Washington at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Atlanta at San Diego, 10 p.m.
Philadelphia at San Jose, 10 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 3
San Jose at Carolina, 4 p.m.
San Diego at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 4
New York at Boston, 4 p.m.
Atlanta at Washington, 4 p.m.

All times Eastern

LEADING SCORERS
(G-A--Pts)
1. Katia (San Jose) 14-2--30
2. Tiffeny Milbrett (New York) 10-7--27
Marinette Pichon (Philadelphia) 13-1--27
4. Maren Meinert (Boston) 7-12--26
5. Kristine Lilly (Boston) 7-11--25
6. Abby Wambach (Washington) 9-5--23
7. Dagny Mellgren (Boston) 10-2--22
Danielle Fotopoulos (Carolina) 8-6--22
9. Birgit Prinz (Carolina) 8-5--21
Hege Riise (Carolina) 5-11--21
11. Charmaine Hooper (Atlanta) 9-1--19
12. Shannon MacMillan (San Diego) 5-6--16
13. Emily Janss (New York) 7-1--15
Homare Sawa (Atlanta) 5-5--15
15. Zhang Ouying (San Diego) 5-2--12
16. Julie Foudy (San Diego) 4-3--11
Kelly Smith (Philadelphia) 4-3--11
Sissi (San Jose) 1-9--11
19. Mia Hamm (Washington) 4-2--10
Cindy Parlow (Atlanta) 4-2--10
Pretinha (San Jose) 4-2--10
Nikki Serlenga (Atlanta) 2-6--10
23. Tisha Venturini-Hoch (San Jose) 4-1--9
Brandi Chastain (San Jose) 3-3--9
Lori Lindsey (San Diego) 2-5--9
Zhao Lihong (Philadelphia) 2-5--9
Bettina Wiegmann (Boston) 1-7--9



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