Gold Pride denies Athletica playoff berth

In an exciting WPS Sunday match, FC Gold Pride played the second place Saint Louis Athletica to a 1-1 tie, denying the home team’s bid to clinch a post-season berth.

The result of the must-win match does mark end of the Pride’s inaugural season playoff campaign, but the team didn’t go down without a battle.

“It was an outstanding game for us,” said FC Gold Pride Head Coach Albertin Montoya. “It was all heart, determination and desire to compete. These women played their hearts out today, they could barely walk after the game. On only two days of rest, their legs were really heavy on the players and they fought through it. It was absolutely an amazing performance. After the game, fans were thanking us for the great performance and exciting soccer.”

The Pride took control of the tempo in the first half, firing off six quality shots on goal, including a couple of close range opportunities that resulted in near misses. The Athletica, capitalized on one of their few opportunities in the half, scoring on a quick counter attack mounted in the 28th minute to put the home team up 1-0. Nikki Cross gave her team the first half lead, scoring the first goal of her WPS career, as she volleyed the ball into the back of the net on a low cross served from Kendall Fletcher.

In the second 45, the Pride made every effort to match the intensity they showed in the first. Christine Sinclair sparked the team’s offense, scoring the equalizer in the 88th minute of play. For the British Columbia native, Sunday’s goal was her sixth of the season. The second half goal re-energized the Pride who played their hearts out for the final 12-plus minutes of the match.

“We had a lot of incredible opportunities to put the game away, it was nice to see Christine put one in the back of the net. It lifted our team, they saw that we could still do it and we fought till the very end. It was more like a track meet at the end of the game both teams wanted the win. It was an exciting finish.”

With their season on the line, the Pride put on a show, but couldn’t find the back of the net as the Athletica defense held off a tough last-minute charge from the Pride, solidifying the team’s fate as the first to be counted out of the post-season.

“Without a doubt, we are going to go out there and keep improving,” Montoya said of his game plan for the final three games of the season. “We are going to go out strong and go out to win our next three games. We believe we can, as we have all season long. We’ve been unfortunate at times, but we’re going to go out here and play for our fans and play for each other. You’ll see a great performance from us in the next three games.”

“Regardless of the outcome of our season or the next three games, these players want to play for the Pride and they want to make it clear that they want to be here next year.”

The Pride will return to Buck Shaw Stadium to host the Washington Freedom on Saturday, August 1.