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August 3, 2010 > Gold Pride end road trip with scoreless draw

Gold Pride end road trip with scoreless draw

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

In the third meeting of the season between FC Gold Pride (12-3-2, 38 points) and Atlanta Beat (4-7-5, 17 points), the Beat salvaged its first point in the standings against Women's Professional Soccer's best team.

With one remarkable save after another by Beat keeper Hope Solo, Atlanta earned a scoreless draw on Sunday night, Aug. 1, in front of 3,242 fans at KSU Soccer Stadium in Kennesaw, Ga.

On top of the number of diving saves, Solo was aided by three Gold Pride shots that dinged off the woodwork.

"It is a little frustrating that we came out here and were given so many chances, especially in the second half, but that's how soccer goes," said Gold Pride coach Albertin Montoya. "I actually think we played better this time around than when we won 4-0, but that's how we play the game. We took chances, but didn't put them away."

Atlanta came into the match with a three-game win streak while the Gold Pride entered with a WPS best five-game win streak. Neither club would extend its streak, but the unbeaten streaks continued.

It was the Gold Pride's third straight road game. The tie gave the Pride seven points in the three games, and put them one step closer to making the playoffs.

With the Chicago Red Stars win at Sky Blue FC on Sunday, the Pride will need to top the Red Stars in their meeting next week, Saturday, Aug. 7, at Pioneer Stadium in Hayward to clinch a berth in the post season. It will be the Pride's first playoff appearance in the league's two-year history.

Atlanta's tie brings them into a sixth-place tie with Washington Freedom. They sit just three points behind Chicago for the final post-season spot. Next week, the Atlanta has two matches: at Boston on Wednesday and at home against defending champion Sky Blue FC on Saturday.

Here is a recap of the match which, despite the lack of goals, was chock-full of chances on both sides.

First Half
Atlanta Beat showed its speed in the sixth minute, with Eniola Aluko and Lori Chalupny both beating the Pride's offside trap. Aluko raced to the ball and dribbled into the box.

With Chalupny wide open to her left, Aluko elected to shoot. Gold Pride keeper Nicole Barnhart made a lunging save, punching it out for a corner that the Pride defended. If Aluko passed it to Chalupny, she would have had a wide-open goal with Barnhart guarding the near post.

FC Gold Pride regained their possession-style game after the 10-minute mark. But despite the possession shifting in favor of the Gold Pride, Atlanta had another great chance to net the game's first goal.

Chalupny sent Aluko to the races. The English international raced Pride and Canadian international defender Candace Chapman to the ball. Aluko beat Chapman off the dribble and freed her left foot but whistled her shot wide of the target in the 20th minute.

Gold Pride got its best chance of the first half in the 25th minute. Tiffeny Milbrett sent a through-ball into Kelley O'Hara's feet. O'Hara took her first touch at goal, beating Atlanta keeper Hope Solo to the far side, but it dinged the post and bounced out.

Solo showed why she's arguably the world's best keeper in the 42nd minute. Shannon Boxx ran onto a ball in the corner and sent a cross into the center of the box. O'Hara hit a header toward the lower 90, but Solo made a diving save on the goal line.

Second Half
Marta, after hardly having any touches throughout the first 45, began to pick up a little steam in the early stages of the second half. Within the first five minutes, she took three shots at goal -- two with her foot, one with her head -- but nothing was on target.

Also struggling in the first half was Christine Sinclair. She had her first opportunity in the 56th minute. Boxx sent O'Hara into the box where she took a shot that was blocked. On the rebound, Sinclair chested it down but her shot went high of the target.

Gold Pride continued its chances with a pair in the 63rd minute.

On the initial chance, Milbrett received a Sinclair pass and sent it into Boxx at the top of the box. She headed it to her foot and took a shot that Solo dove all-out to punch away. Gold Pride retrieved the rebound and sent it back in the box where Milbrett flicked a shot that hit the crossbar before Solo grabbed it.

Solo continued her remarkable performance with another diving stop in the 67th minute. O'Hara, coming from her left midfield position, cut into the box before unloading a shot for the far post. Solo dove fully horizontal to punch the ball away from goal.

Gold Pride defender Ali Riley suffered what appeared to be a hip injury in the 74th minute. On the Beat's next possession, they attacked Riley.

Riley beat Monica Ocampo in a race to the ball and attempted to head it to Chapman, but had no power behind it. Ocampo got the loose ball and fired a shot at goal that went high of the target. Riley came out before the Pride took its goal kick.

Ocampo challenged Kristin Graczyk (Riley's replacement) in her next touch in the 78th minute. The Mexican international crossed it toward Ramona Bachmann who won it away from Rachel Buehler and took a shot for the far post but missed wide.

Sinclair had her, and the Gold Pride's, best chance of the game in the 90th minute -- the last chance for either team. Kiki Bosio beat her defender on the right flank and sent a low cross into the box that Sinclair was first to. Her first touch was at goal, and it drilled the crossbar.




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