W-League Press release
Sunday, July 29, 2012
OTTAWA, ON - The Ottawa Fury gave up a second-minute goal on Sunday afternoon and then spent all of 88 minutes searching for the equalizer in the 2012 W-League Championship presented by Umbro.
They found it at the death. Ashley Seal pounced on the rebound as Pali Blues goalkeeper Anna Maria Picarelli could only parry away Katrina-Lee Gorry’s free kick, and Seal made no mistake from close range, tying the game at 1-1 moments before the final whistle. After overtime, Ottawa goalkeeper Jasmine Phillips made two diving saves during the penalty kicks to lift the Fury to their first W-League title.
The W-League Championship kicked off on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Algonquin College Soccer Complex and it didn’t take long for Pali to edge its way in front as Nikki Washington fired from long range to put the Blues up 1-0 in just the second minute of play. Washington was held out of action during Friday’s semifinal and she made an immediate impact on Sunday afternoon. Sarah Huffman played Washington down the right side and she struck a brilliant shot from distance, beating Phillips and into the far netting.
The Blues came into Sunday’s game searching for their third W-League title while the perennial power Fury were back in the championship game for the second consecutive season.
The Blues continued to press forward early, picking out 2012 Rookie of the Year Lynn Williams at every opportunity. Williams was a constant threat to the Fury back line in the first half with her size and speed despite recovering from a pulled hamstring. Less than 15 minutes into the first half and down a goal, Fury head coach Dom Oliveri brought on 2011 W-League MVP Mallory Outerbridge to boost the attack.
"We felt that we played ourself into the game," Oliveri said. "I think we were very, very nervous and it showed in the first 15 minutes. The message was keep going, keep going. We knew we could break them down if we kept playing. All credit to the players. They gave a great performance."
Ottawa settled nicely with the change and came close to knotting the game at 1-1 as Leni Kaurin played Outerbridge through but couldn’t quite keep the ball from going beyond the touch line and the threat came to a halt.
Continuing to press forward, Outerbridge came close for the Fury in the 27th minute. Tina Romagnuolo found Outerbridge with a lovely weighted through-ball behind the Pali defense only to have Cammi Levin come across to break up the shot.
Seven minutes before the halftime whistle Outerbridge had the best chance for the Fury in the first half. Lisa-Marie Woods worked her way into the box and squared across frame past Picarelli to Outerbridge. With an open net in front of her, she couldn’t redirect on frame and hit the post, leaving the Pali back line free to breathe a sigh of relief.
Two minutes into the second half Washington almost doubled the Blues’ advantage. Elizabeth Eddy played across the box with the ball somehow finding its way through to Washington on the opposite side. Firing low on frame the Ottawa defense cleared off the line to safety.
As in the first half, Pali came out on the front foot with the Fury weathering the storm to hit back with their own wave of pressure. Woods had the first chance as Kelly Conheeney laid it off to her just outside the box but the shot sailed over Picarelli’s crossbar. Moments later, Outerbridge was again at the center of the action, chesting down Woods’ cross only to volley over the goal.
Ottawa pushed forward at every opportunity yet couldn’t create clear scoring opportunities as the Pali back line was organized and incisive. With the Fury committing so many players forward Pali found space in the counterattack and in the 81st minute Eddy found space in the box but neither Bogus nor Tangorra could get a touch and Phillips saved.
With moments remaining in regulation Woods stepped up to take the free kick just outside the box. Her shot fired past the wall and through to Picarelli who palmed away. Seal collected and fired home to knot the game at the death, sending the W-League Championship into extra time.
Riding the wave of momentum the Fury crashed forward in the first 15 minutes. Gorry almost put the Fury up in the 96th minute with a shot from 30 yards out rattling the crossbar. Pali held firm, though, and snuffed out the Fury attack taking the game to the short intermission. After the break Pali came out on the front foot with Andrews and Lytle both testing Phillips. After 120 minutes, however, the game remained 1-1 and headed to penalty kicks.
Fury youth product Jasmine Phillips made two diving saves and closed out the game 2-1 (4-3) as the Fury won their first W-League Championship in front of their home fans. It was the perfect ending to the script, which began 13 years ago for Fury owner John Pugh.
"It’s been a long run," Pugh said. "This is the fourth time [in the championship game] and to do it in front of our own fans and to do it in the manner that we did where we had to come from behind after giving up the early goal… it’s unbelievable. It’s something this club has strived to do for 10 seasons and finally it’s all come true."
"This just means a ton and so much for the club," Oliveri added. "We’ve had such a great program for so long. We’ve been in the finals four times and managed to win one. This is great for the club and John Pugh, who’s given a great opportunity here to do so many things."
After coming so close for so long the Ottawa Fury have now etched their name in the history books in what was a thrilling finish to a fantastic 2012 W-League season.