ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Western New York Flash have been crowned champions of the 2012 WPSL Elite season. At the end of regulation, and two halves of overtime, the Flash and Chicago Red Stars were tied 1-1. The Flash won the penalty kick shootout 4-2 to win the championship. One of the big stories of this game was the number of injuries suffered by both teams – with each team losing two players to injury – three of which were in the first half.
The game was physical from the start from both teams with many hard tackles. Although a few of the injuries were unrelated to the physical play, it did cause others to leave the match.
In the 16th minute the injury trouble started for WNY Flash when forward Omolyn Davis was streaking down the sideline and went down holding her ankle. Davis was tended to on the sideline before coming back into the game.
Soon after coming back into the game, however, Davis began limping again and could not make it back to the sideline. In the 20th minute, she was subbed off for Laura Heyboer. It was a big loss for WNY, as Davis was tied for the team lead in assists (with Katy Frierson) coming into the game (four).
In the 27th minute, things went bad for Chicago. Ella Masar was attacking down the sideline when she went down hard, holding her hamstring. While she was calling the trainers over, Lori Chalupny took a late hit and started limping – hurting her ankle. Masar had to be helped off the field in a lot of pain, with Ashleigh Ellenwood subbed on for her in the 31st.
Chalupny was able to limp off the field but was being tended to by the trainer. Eventually the Red Stars would put Amanda Cinalli in for Chalupny in the 34th minute.
Both of were big losses for Chicago. Chalupny had five goals and four assists coming into this game, and while Masar had one assist, both are important leaders to the Red Stars.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the group,” Red Stars’ head coach Rory Dames said about how the team responded to Masar and Chalupny leaving the game. “We’re not a professional team, we’re an amateur team. To play a professional team and to go to overtime and have the game late, and unfortunately losing Lori and Ella early, shows the integrity and grit of our group.”
In the 64th minute, things got scary for both teams when Stephanie Ochs (WNY) and Michelle Wenino (CHI) challenged in the air. They slammed heads, causing them both to go down. EMTs were called over immediately after the collision. Wenino would eventually get up and, after being checked on the sideline, would come back into the match. Ochs, however, was bloodied and had to be taken away on a golf cart. leaving the game. Emily Van Egmond replaced her in the 66th minute. Ochs had three assists for the Flash coming into the match, another big loss for WNY.
“We just went up and she hit my head and then I fell and happened to open my head and was bleeding everywhere,” said Ochs of the collision. “I just got nervous because I’ve had a few concussions before and so it freaked me out. But, winning makes it a lot better.” (Note: Ochs did not suffer a concussion from this collision.)
It is rare to see this number of players leave a match so soon after injury, and it certainly had its effect on the game. All four players lost to injury are key pieces to their respective team. It also meant that more players had to come off the bench earlier – which showed in the late stages of overtime when both teams’ fatigue was showing.
It is, of course, a shame to see such a large number of players leave any match, but this is especially true in a title game. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the sport, and hopefully all four players are okay. Both teams showed their fight and continued to battle until the very end, despite the injuries thrown their way, and in the end, the Western New York Flash came out on top.