Flash Beat FCKC Without Team USA Stars

With four starters on international duty, the Western New York Flash catapulted itself into third place in the National Women’s Soccer League with a 2-1 victory at home over FC Kansas City.  It was the first time this season the Flash have earned three points at Sahlen’s Stadium, as the club now moves to 2-1-1 (7 points). The Kansas City loss drops the team to 2-3-1 (7 points) and ends a two-game win streak.

Samantha Kerr and Jasmyne Spencer scored their first goals of the 2014 season, with Spencer’s being the first of her professional career. FC Kansas City’s Morgan Marlborough cut the lead to one in the second half, but the Flash would not be denied the win.

Angela Salem forced Nicole Barnhart into her first acrobatic save of the night off a 37th-minute corner from Adriana. After the ball was headed out, Salem was able to get a waist-level one-timed strike through the Blues’ defense but Barnhart dove to carom the ball out for another corner.

But on the ensuing kick, Kansas City was not as lucky as Kerr went airborne to head the ball past Barnhart, off defender Merritt Mathias and into the net.

Late into first half stoppage, with Kansas City pressing for an equalizer, the Flash turned the table with Spencer making the game 2-0.  The speedy forward collected a long pass from Kerr and, with a combination of her head and feet, beat two KC defenders to go one-on-one with Barnhart.

Down 2-0 at the beginning of the second half, rookie Marlborough cut the Flash lead to one with her first career goal.  The play started off a free kick from Frances Silva and, after Molly Dreska kept the Flash from clearing, Marlborough was able to run onto a backwards headed ball from Flash defender Kristen Edmonds and knock it past Lydia Williams.

Though the goals were bunched near the half mark, the game was not shy of other scoring opportunities.  Spencer, who earned her first start on Wednesday, nearly found Kerr in the 16th minute after working a give-and-go with Adriana, but her slotted pass had slightly too much pace for Kerr to reach.

Minutes before her goal, Kerr nearly picked Barnhart off her line after collecting a perfectly-placed outlet from Salem.  From about 30-yards out, the Australian international looked to lob the ball over the keeper’s head, but her effort just missed the top-right corner.

In the 55th, Amy Barczuk had a chance to make the game 3-0 in favor of the home team but her volley off a corner was denied by the post. Kerr, who was waiting for the rebound had a chance as well, but it went over the bar.

Spencer had an opportunity to notch her second goal of the match in the 74th minute when she intercepted a pass from Kansas City’s Nikki Phillips but Kassey Kallman was able to block the attempt before it could threaten Barnhart.

Williams came up with her lone save of the game at the biggest moment, denying Marlborough from just feet away in the 87th minute.

With Williams forced to make just one save, the Flash defense put up another solid performance. Facing a Blues team that entered the game averaging 16.8 shots per game, the Flash allowed just five to Kansas City and only two on net, almost five times below the team’s average of 9.4 per game.

The Flash will close out a three-game home stand on Sunday in a Mother’s Day matinee against Sky Blue FC.  The game is scheduled to kickoff at 3 p.m. and will feature the return of Abby Wambach, Sonia Bermudez and Vicky Losada, who all missed Wednesday’s game due to international duty.  Carli Lloyd will be unavailable as she serves her final game of a two-game suspension.

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