Match Report: Fury FC Women Claim Third Place
It was a steamy one at the IMG Academy Stadium in Bradenton, Florida on Sunday as the Fury FC Women faced the Charlotte Lady Eagles in the W-League Championship consolation match, coming out on top after penalties. The match itself was a bit of an odd one, with neither team creating a whole lot offensively on a blazing hot afternoon which saw the match stop three times - twice for scheduled water breaks, and once for a scary injury to Charlotte goalkeeper Robyn Jones.
The match kicked off and started according to plan - Ottawa dominating, picking apart the Charlotte defense at will - but the Lady Eagles defended with their lives and survived the opening Fury FC onslaught, thanks to two key saves from their starting goalkeeper, Robyn Jones. Ottawa striker Tiffany Cameron raced to a loose ball in the 13th minute, only to be robbed by a diving Jones, while Kristy Moore was denied all alone in front of Jones in the 19th minute.
The match stopped for some time, and rightfully so, in the 27th minute, when Jones was knocked unconscious on a freak play. Kristy Moore sent a low cross into the heart of the Charlotte box, and as Jones dove to corral the ball, her head collided with Tiffany Cameron's lower body. Jones was knocked unconscious on the play, and remained down for several minutes before being taken off the field on a stretcher. Giving a thumbs up as she left the pitch, Jones was taken by ambulance to a regional hospital. Fury FC wish her the best and a speedy recovery. Jones' replacement in the Charlotte net, Valerie Tysinger, was tested immediately once she entered the game, with Ottawa's Arin Gilliland firing a hard left-footed effort which Tysinger parried away.
Ottawa took a deserved lead in the 34th minute through Courtney Raetzman. The University of Kentucky midfielder received a pass from Teresa Rynier, looked up, and fired a shot from 25 yards out which beat Tysinger. Charlotte seemed to wake up after the Raetzman goal, pushing forward and looking much more threatening in the attacking third towards the end of the first half. Fury FC Women's defender Bryanna McCarthy picked up a yellow card not long after, as she hauled down an Eagles forward on a break.
Late in the first half, Charlotte earned a free kick off to the right of the Fury FC penalty area. While the Eagles didn't capitalize on that opportunity, the uncharacteristically poor set piece defending from Ottawa gifted them another free kick ten seconds later, right on the edge of the Fury FC 18-yard box in a prime shooting position. Leah Fortune stepped up and made no mistake, taking a perfect free kick and beating Ottawa 'keeper Maryse Bard-Martel to draw the Eagles level.
Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps it was fatigue - for whatever reason, the second half slowed down completely, with neither team creating many chances.
The lone memorable exchange of the second half came on the final play of the game, when the ball bounced around dangerously inside the Charlotte penalty area before being headed just over the bar. Due to time constraints, the match went straight to penalties.
Lydia Hastings stepped up first for Ottawa, and made no mistake, while her round one counterpart, Charlotte's Amanda Naeher, missed the net. Advantage - Ottawa. Arin Gilliland calmly slotted home her round two penalty, putting enormous pressure on Charlotte's Leah Fortune. Fortune stepped up, shot to Bard-Martel's left, and was promptly denied by the diving Ottawa 'keeper. Definite advantage - Ottawa. Round three saw centreback Annie Steinlage deposit her penalty, while Julie Parr scored what would turn out to be Charlotte's only goal of the shootout. Bryanna McCarthy stepped up for Dom Oliveri's side in round four, and buried her penalty past a helpless Tysinger, winning the consolation match for Ottawa. Courtney Raetzman picked up Player of the Game honours for her long-range goal in the first half.
While this wasn't the game that Oliveri and his team wanted to be playing in on Championship Sunday, they still put in a very professional performance against Charlotte, and based on the run of play over ninety minutes deserved the victory.
Ottawa Fury FC (4-3-3): Bard-Martel (GK), Gilliland, Steinlage, Zadorsky, McCarthy, Stockdale, Raetzman, Rynier, Cameron, Oduro, Moore.
Charlotte Lady Eagles (4-4-2): Jones (GK), Naeher, Parr, Spangler, Swinehart, Brandt, Fortune, Etten, Lanter, Wingo, Montgomery.
34' - OTT - Courtney Raetzman
45' - CHA - Leah Fortune
38' - OTT - Bryanna McCarthy
OTT - Hastings - GOAL
CHA - Naeher - MISS
OTT - Gilliland - GOAL
CHA - Fortune - SAVE
OTT - Steinlage - GOAL
CHA - Parr - GOAL
OTT - McCarthy - GOAL
Watch the match in its entirety by clicking here