Saturday, April 05, 2003

WUSA Soccer Season Opener: Washington vs. Carolina

Today's match contained one of the funniest sequences I've seen in soccer. Washington's Mia Hamm and Carolina's Tiffany Roberts collided in a hard challenge near the top of the Carolina penalty area, sending them both to the ground. Hamm first appealed to the referee for a foul, then asked Roberts if she was alright. When Roberts said "yes," Hamm started to get up, then dropped and playfully elbowed Roberts in the back, using a stylized move straight out of professional wrestling. Roberts, unphased, reached behind her and grabbed Hamm around the waist in a wrestling move of her own. Then both players burst out laughing. As they got up, the referee approached. Both players, still laughing, smiled at the referee as if to say, "just kidding." No foul was called.

The rest of the match was typical WUSA soccer: fast paced, end-to-end play with plenty of attacking chances on both sides. After Carolina missed a penalty kick wide left, Mia Hamm scored in the 59th minute to give Washington a 2-1 lead on a beautiful left-footed shot from long range into the upper right corner of the goal. Carolina goalkeeper Burke, who had moved to the near post as Hamm charged down the left wing, leaped for the ball but could not quite get there in time. This would prove to be the winning goal for Washington, as a final attack by Carolina got within the Washington penalty area in the closing seconds, but was stopped by the Washington defense. Final score: Washington 2, Carolina 1.

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