The Western New York Flash (8-5-1) entered the night needing a win for a chance to take sole possession of first place in the NWSL standings. Their opponent FC Kansas City (4-6-4) did not back down however, keeping the top-scoring team in the league off the scoresheet. Kansas City netminder Nicole Barnhart stole the show, making 14 saves en route to the clean sheet at Rochester Rhinos Stadium. The loss for the Flash was their first in their last five starts, and was just their second in their last nine matches played.
The eighth minute brought about the first good scoring opportunity for the Flash as the league’s leading goal-getter, Lynn Williams, corralled a ball from inside the eighteen-yard box from Makenzy Doniak. Williams turned and let a left-footer go just wide of the frame. Much of the earlygoing was played without incident, although Williams nearly snuck behind the defense and let a shot go wide in the 27’.
FC Kansas City gained a scoring chance when Tiffany McCarty worked her way into the box in the 30’ but her shot missed well wide of the net. Western New York responded to McCarty’s shot two minutes later when Lianne Sanderson fed Williams, who watched as Barnhart’s left hand denied her. In the 40’, McCall Zerboni
couldn’t drive home a header after Abby Dahlkemper played a ball to her inside the box.
The visitors responded to the WNY threat with three minutes remaining the the first frame as Kansas City’s Shea Groom raced onto a ball and eluded a hard-charging Katelyn Rowland. Groom’s momentum carried her to the endline, where her shot rolled along the length of the goalline, never crossing and keeping the game scoreless. A minute later, the visitors continued to pressure and this time it was Erika Tymrau who weaved her way through multiple defenders to let a shot go, which Rowland snared as she dove to her right.
Despite the late flurry before the halftime whistle by both teams, neither opportunity was able to crack the opposing netminder, leaving the match scoreless after forty-five minutes of action.
The Flash nearly connected four minutes into the second half when Jessica McDonald’s header off a corner kick was stopped by Barnhart. Moments later, it was Kansas City’s Groom who had Rowland beat, but watched as her shot grazed off the crossbar.
Despite the opportunities by the Flash, it was FC Kansas City who took the first lead of the match. Tiffany McCarty played a through ball to Shea Groom, who raced onto a ball that left her one-on-one with Rowland. Groom took the ball wide, waited for the ‘keeper to make a move, and scored from the corner of the penalty area to give FC Kansas City a 1-0 lead.
The Flash began the fight back in the 69’ when a cross by Janice Cayman that resulted in a corner kick. The home side continued to push, creating numerous chances, but could not crack the Kansas City defense. The Flash appeared to have found the equalizer in the 81’ off a cross, but Adriana Leon’s point blank shot was swallowed up by Barnhart. Soon thereafter, Barnhart was up to the challenge as she easily denied Sanderson on a restart, keeping the Flash in a one-goal deficit.
The final five minutes of the second half saw the Flash bring the pressure that has them widely regarded as the top-ranked offense in the National Women’s Soccer League. A series of opportunities occurred when a shot from inside the eighteen-yard box deflected off of the face of Barnhart. The rebound shot by Leon was cleared away by a Kansas City defender as Barnhart regained her composure to deny the third shot in the flurry. The pressure continued but the Flash again came up empty, as Williams’s header from a cross went wide.
The Flash finished with 24 shots, setting a new franchise record for shots in a game. In addition, the Flash were able to put 14 shots on goal, another franchise record.
With the loss the Flash remain in second place with 25 points, just a point behind Washington and Portland, who are tied with 26 points each.
Western New York will be in action again next Saturday, June 30, when they travel to face the Houston Dash. Kickoff for the match is slated for 8:30 p.m. ET. The Flash will return home on Saturday, August 27, as they again will face Houston. Kickoff will be at 7:00 p.m. when the Flash host Houston at Rochester Rhinos Stadium.