Women's Soccer News: Atlanta Captures W-League Crown
Silverbacks end Ottawa’s perfect season to earn first title
The Atlanta Silverbacks captured their first title in franchise history at the 2011 W-League Championship Presented by Umbro Sunday afternoon in Seattle. The Silverbacks downed the previously undefeated Ottawa Fury 6-1 at Starfire Sports Stadium to earn the title.
The title caps an impressive season for the Silverbacks, who earned their fifth consecutive Atlantic Division title in 2011. Atlanta only lost one match all season to finish 13-1-0 with midfielder Megan Tomlinson named a 2011 W-League All-League selection. Atlanta defeated the New Jersey Wildcats, Charlotte Lady Eagles and Vancouver Whitecaps FC to advance to the title game.
The Silverbacks got off to a quick start in Sunday’s championship match after Tomlinson nodded in a corner the ninth minute. Minutes later Atlanta went two up on a Susannah Dennis wonder strike from the left side of the box. Down two goals, things did not get easier for Ottawa as Courtney Wetzel received a straight red card for a foul in the box. Alexa Newfield slotted home the resulting penalty to put the Fury in a 3-0 hole.
Ottawa started the second half buzzing around the pitch, looking to pull off a remarkable comeback and W-League MVP Mallory Outerbridge was determined to lead the way. Four minutes into the second half Outerbridge slotted home her league-leading 22nd goal of the season. Ottawa pushed forward but playing with 10 and two goals down was too much. Dennis opened up a three-goal cushion five minutes later with her second of the game. The Silverbacks added two more to their tally to take the match 6-1.
After reaching the 2010 W-League Championship Presented by Umbro and falling short in the semifinals, the Silverbacks made no mistake in taking home the hardware this time.
"We weren’t focused last year and this year we came into the weekend with a different mentality," Atlanta Head Coach Chris Adams said. "The girls have been outstanding and played so hard in these two games. Ottawa is an outstanding team but we came into this hungry."
Gunning for their first W-League title in franchise history the Atlanta Silverbacks showed no signs of nervous energy at the 2011 W-League Championship Presented by Umbro. After appearing in the 2010 W-League Championship Weekend but failing to reach the final Silverbacks coach Chris Adams’ squad came to Seattle focused and on a mission.
"We weren’t focused last year and this year we came into the weekend with a different mentality," Adams said. "The girls have been outstanding and played so hard in these two games. Ottawa is an outstanding team but we came into this hungry."
While the Silverbacks were made to work harder than the final score of 6-1 on Sunday afternoon at Starfire Sports Complex, their continuous work rate to win every ball, especially in the midfield, proved to be the key in winning their first title.
With 2011 W-League MVP Mallory Outerbridge in the attack the Ottawa Fury have found success all season long finding the back of the net. Chances were at a premium, however, as Atlanta’s back line stood strong and was up to the task from the sound of the first whistle. As in Friday’s semifinal, Megan Tomlinson got the Silverbacks off to a quick start. A corner kick was played long and sent back into the box where Tomlinson headed in her third goal of the tournament in just the ninth minute. And that was just the beginning.
Just four minutes later Rebecca Nolin forced Jasmine Phillips into a great save to keep the scoreline at 1-0. Ottawa came back into the game with Melissa Busque firing wide midway through the first half. Minutes later Atlanta would go two up on a Susannah Dennis wonder strike from the left side of the box. Down two goals things would not get easier for the Fury as Courtney Wetzel received a straight red card for a foul in the box. Alexa Newfield made no mistake from the spot and the rout was on.
Atlanta wanted one more before intermission and had two great chances to put the game out of reach but couldn’t quite convert and the scoreline remained.
Ottawa came out in the second half with a vengeance and looking to pull off a remarkable comeback. Outerbridge was determined to lead the way and just four minutes in slotted home her league-leading 22nd goal of the season. Ottawa pushed forward but playing with 10 and two goals down was just too much. Dennis opened up a three-goal cushion five minutes later with her second of the game.
In unfamiliar territory Ottawa struggled to make headway through the Silverbacks defense. Nineteen minutes from time 2011 W-League Championship game MVP Tomlinson got her second. Out-racing the Fury back line she calmly finished past Phillips and had her second brace of the tournament. With the game all but over Atlanta added a sixth one minute from the final whistle as Sarah Bennett found space in the box to finish off a cross from close range.
Ottawa fought to the end but on this day it just wasn’t enough as coach Chris Adams’ side earned the title and head back to Atlanta with a championship in tow.
Third-Place Game - Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, Seattle Sounders Women 1
Canadian international Kaylyn Kyle capped off the comeback with a wonderful low strike the ricocheted off the post into the net midway through the second half as the Vancouver Whitecaps claimed third place in the 2011 W-League Championship Weekend presented by Umbro. Seattle had several chances late to push the game into penalty kicks but couldn’t find the equalizer.
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