In only her third game as player-coach of Sky Blue FC, U.S. national team captain Christine Rampone
showed off her
coaching talent, shaking up the Sky Blue's lineup for its first-round playoff game at Washington. She had leading scorer Natasha Kai
on bench at the start
of the game, but Kai and another sub, the little-used Brazilian Francielle
, came on to score and lead the New Jersey team past the Freedom, 2-1.
Kai scored a minute after entering the game, while Francielle's game-winning goal came in the 84th minute was the first goal her her WPS career.
"Tash has been struggling with
her shoulders and I thought a good 45 from her would be better than a soft 90 especially with the heat and the 4 o'clock game," Rampone said. "Fran has been doing an exceptional job
at practice. She defends well and I thought that she could sit in front of us and change the point with simple passes. She was a key player for us tonight."
acquired from Saint Louis along with Kerri Hanks
, who started in place of Kai, in a midseason trade -- had only appeared in one game with Sky Blue FC.
"I've been working hard all season and I was very excited to get into the game," the Brazilian said. "I wanted to prove to the coaches that I can be on the field with all
these other players."
The 92-degree heat slowed down the high-scoring Freedom, which had beaten Sky Blue, 3-1, a week earlier.
Sky Blue FC finished with a 24-12
edge in shots -- 14-5 in the first half.
The only goal Washington scored came in 78th minute off a rebound by Lisa De Vanna
after Sky Blue FC
keeper Jenni Branam
had collided with Abby Wambach
on a through ball in the box.
save of the game came earlier in the second half when she tipped a blast by Ali Krieger
off the crossbar.
Sky Blue FC faces Saint Louis
Athletica Wednesday in the Super Semifinal at the Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, Mo. (TV: Fox Soccer Channel, live, 7 p.m. ET. ) Playoffs First Round Aug. 15 in Boyds, Md. Washington 1 FC Sky Blue 2.
Goals: De Vanna 78; Kai (White) 55, Francielle 84. Washington -
McLeod, Senty, Whitehill, Sauerbrunn, Krieger, Lindsey (Huffman, 73), Gilbeau
(Singer, 46), Sawa, Moros (Long, 59), De Vanna, Wambach. Sky Blue FC -
Branam, Buczkowski, Dowling, Schnur, Rampone, Averbuch, McCallum (Francielle,
61), O'Reilly, White (Parker, 71), Rosana, Hanks (Kai, 54). Referee:
Daniel Fitzgerald. Att.: