Freedom reign in OT

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2003

 Washington's Abby Walbach, left, is tackled by teammate Mia Hamm after scoring the game-winning goal Sunday in the Founders Cup.

Denis Poroy/AP 

   SAN DIEGO - Abby Wambach scored the winning goal in the sixth minute of overtime - one minute after teammate Mia Hamm bounced a free kick off the crossbar - and the Washington Freedom beat the Atlanta Beat 2-1 in the WUSA championship game on Sunday.

   Wambach, expected to be a key player on the U.S. national team, also scored in the seventh minute of regulation and was named the game's MVP.

   Hamm, who'd won everything during her brilliant career except the Founders Cup, was poised to be the hero but her free kick from within the arc slammed off the crossbar.

   The kick was set up when Wambach was taken down by Nancy Augustyniak just outside the penalty box. Augustyniak was ejected.

   Just a minute later, Wambach took a crossing pass from Jenny Meier, a second-half substitution, and beat goalie Briana Scurry with a close-range shot from the left side.

   Wambach was mobbed by her teammates while Scurry sank to her knees after having lost in the title game twice in its three-year history.

   ''We told ourselves in the huddle, 'We're not going to lose,''' Wambach said.

   Wambach, the WUSA's rookie of the year in 2002, scored her first two career playoff goals. She tied with Hamm for the WUSA scoring lead with 33 points this season.

   This was a battle of Founders Cup bridesmaids and it was a rough one, with five yellow cards and Augustyniak's red card. The Freedom lost last year's title game to Carolina, and Atlanta lost to the Bay Area CyberRays in 2001.

   Wambach scored the second-fastest goal in Founders Cup history when she got behind defender Sharolota Nonen and headed the ball into the lower left side of the net past Scurry.

   Atlanta tied it 1-1 on Charmaine Hooper's penalty kick in the 45th minute, when she easily put it past goalie Siri Mullinix.

   Until the penalty kick, Atlanta's best chance was when Hooper had a chance from close in but kicked it straight to goalie Siri Mullinix. in the 20th minute.

   Scurry made a brilliant save on Sandra Minnert's 35-yard free kick, reaching up with her right hand to knock it over the crossbar.

   Mullinix made several nice saves in the second half.


Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Monday, August 25, 2003.


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