The New York Fury brushed off a pre-match delay of more than an hour caused by the late arrival of the Philadelphia Fever to rout their tardy guests 3-0 for their first home victory. After a frustrating first half that ended scoreless, Kim Yokers buried two second half goals before her replacement Gina DiMartino made it 3-0 with a crackling shot into the upper left corner.
Fury coach Paul Riley called it a good warmup match for “the big one” Sunday when the Western New York Flash come to Hofstra University.
“It was not easy standing around for an hour and a half,” Fury coach Paul Riley said. “I thought they approached themselves really professionally. It was a difficult situation.”
Once the Fever arrived they packed the box to make things difficult on the Fury, who completely controlled the possession for the entire 90 minutes. The only thing they could not do in the opening half was beat Fever goalkeeper Michele Dalton.
“I don’t want to set this team up to fail where we go out and play a team and try to play a possession game,” Fever head coach Stuart Gore said. “They’re just going to take the ball off us and absolutely take us to town. For the first half I thought defensively we were outstanding.”
Part of the outstanding effort was from Dalton. The former Wisconsin standout made two tremendous first half saves to keep the match scoreless. The first and best of them was a 12th minute dive to her left to knock away a crisply taken shot by Leigh Ann Robinson. Near the end of the half she went left again and deflected Sinead Farrelly’s shot off the post and out of danger. Dalton and the Fever later got a dose of luck when Brittany Taylor’s long-range laser appeared to hit both the post and crossbar before being cleared out of danger.
“That’s probably the strongest quality that I have, shot-stopping as a goalkeeper,” Dalton said. “It’s something that I work on frequently. When I see those good shooters with the ball at their feet I’m looking for it.”
Riley credited Dalton—who he coaches as part of his Super Group—and the Fever’s stout, defensive posture with keeping the match close through halftime. By that point the possession was so tilted the way of the Fury, outside backs Taylor and Estelle Johnson were pushed up so high it was almost as if Riley was employing a two-back formation.
Eventually, in the 57th minute, the Fury got on the scoreboard. Dalton’s clearance went to Yokers who sent it back into the upper left corner for the night’s first goal. Yokers struck again in the 70th minute. The former Cal standout walked onto a loose ball from a scramble in the box and easily notched her second of the night.
“Once we got the two goals the game died,” Riley said. “I think there was a pretty big gulf between the teams tonight.”
The unofficial Equalizer stats saw the Fury with a 20-0 shot advantage for the match. It was DiMartino’s pellet in the 80th minute that left the biggest impression on Dalton.
“It was a heck of a shot,” she said. “I don’t think too many goalkeepers in the world would have gotten that one.”
Gore singled out DiMartino in his effusive praise for the Fury, who he considers the best side in WPSL Elite.
“If Gina DiMartino played for me she could play all the minutes she wanted,” Gore said of DiMartino’s role as a bench player for the Fury.
The Fury (3-1-0, 10 pts.) will welcome the Flash to Hofstra for a Sunday night clash. The Fever (0-2-1, 1 pt.) will be at New England on Saturday.
“I think we made a team have to work tonight, to score especially the first goal,” Gore said of the Fever’s first time on the pitch with one of the big four.