Atlanta advances

Silverbacks overcome early Seattle goal for 4-1 win

The Atlanta Silverbacks overcame a shaky start in the first semifinal of the W-League Championship tournament Friday night to rally past the Seattle Sounders and advance to the Championship match with a resounding 4-1 victory.

The last team to arrive in full in Rochester courtesy of a cross-country trek, the Sounders needed very little time to get on the board as Lyndsey Patterson scored just six minutes into the semifinal match against the Silverbacks, who had not trailed in a match since their 2-2 draw at home against Cocoa on July 6 – a span of four games including their two conference playoff matches.

Patterson, who was dribbling around the Atlanta defenders throughout the game, created the goal when she beat an Atlanta back just inside the upper right corner of the box and struck a beautiful shot from 17 yards over goalkeeper Courtney Cripps and into the far side netting.

A header from Sarah Steinman in the 38th minute was just out of reach of Melanie Schneider, who was on the doorstep for an easy put-away. Two minutes later Steinman just minutes the equalizer when she created some space on the right side of the box and let off a low drive that ricocheted off the bottom of the far post and away.

Latham risked injury on diving header for equalizer (20 Toe Photo)The Silverbacks finally pulled level just before the break when a ball up the right flank left Krista Davey with plenty of space as she charged toward the box. Just as she reached the penalty area she sent a low cross into the six where Canadian international Christine Latham dove for low header from five yards as the goalkeeper charged in and the Seattle defender were attempted to clear it, sacrificing herself for the 44th minute equalizer.

Halftime substitute Tara Minnax proved an immediate impact as she buried a shot from just outside the box less than two minutes into the second stanza. A corner kick from Krista Davey created a scramble inside the box before Monica Buff dropped the ball back to the top of the box to an onrushing Minnax, who rifled it inside the left post past Sounders star Michelle French and goalkeeper Carly Smolak.

Atlanta nearly doubled the lead in the 56th. Minnax sent a ball over the defense from the top of the box to the top of the six for Schneider, who chested the ball down and ripped a shot off the volley only to have defender Kelli Smith block it.

In the 64th minute as Davey was driving across the top of the box, the ball popped loose on a challenge to Schneider, who sent the ball from 19 yards off the crossbar.

Buff stunned everyone in the 68th minute when she ripped a 30 yard shot on goal that Smolak mishandled and allowed to fall into the goal for a 3-1 Atlanta lead.

Second half sub Michelle Baysa had an excellent chance to pull the Sounders back within one in the 72nd minute when Patterson slipped the ball to her. Baysa sent a dipping shot that went just high over the goal from 20 yards.

Minnax found Steinman in the 80th minute to put the match out away with a ball over the top of the defense. Steinman took a touch on the volley before burying the ball from nine yards to make it 4-1.

The Silverbacks continue to dominate in the postseason, outscoring their opposition now 13-3 in their three postseason games.