Three games and three wins – needless to say, magicJack’s inaugural season is up and running in South Florida. On a sunny Mother’s Day afternoon, magicJack took on WPS opponent, the Atlanta Beat for a 2-0 win. This is the club’s third straight home game and they were able to come away with another three points before starting their twenty-day road trip.
After the first scheduled game was rained out on the road, magicJack made their highly anticipated debut at home on April 23rd against the Boston Breakers. A crowd of about 1,200 watched magicJack get their first win 1-0 over the Boston Breakers at FAU’s Soccer Field. Last week they continued to please a crowd of more than one thousand with a 2-1 comeback win over the Philadelphia Independence.
Before that first home game, rumors were swirling through South Florida’s soccer community about this new WPS team in the area. The absence of a Web site and media coverage contributed to the mystery surrounding magicJack until kick-off on opening day.
With the season opener, some questions were finally answered. Yes, the Washington Freedom have been relocated and transformed into magicJack (the soccer team, not the phone product). Yes, some of the biggest names in the women’s game are on the roster. Yes, South Florida has an excellent opportunity to help WPS continue to grow.
Even with these questions answered, there was still a lot of ambiguity surrounding the club. It wasn’t until Sunday that post-game interviews with the players were finally granted – and what a game for it. Although the first two games had much buzz about them and displayed some great soccer, this game was magicJack’s from start to finish.
Sunday’s game started at 4 p.m. and right out of the gate magicJack controlled possession. The first big opportunity for either team came in the 24th minute when Ella Masar put away her second goal of the season.
The build-up started with Abby Wambach in the midfield when she won the ball in the air and with a quick turn and found Lindsay Tarpley down the right flank. Tarpley played a cross that sailed over Atlanta’s goalkeeper, Alli Lipsher, and Masar met the ball at the back post for the score.
“Tarps played a great ball in, the goalie missed it a bit and I was lucky I was there,” said Masar. “You always have to follow.”
Masar was back in the attack seconds after play started again when she sent a shot wide right from about 18 yards out. Then, in the 31st minute she came close to a second goal of the day when midfielder Sarah Huffman slid the ball across the box to find Masar at the back post. It was barely cleared out by the Beat’s defense. Lipsher kept the Beat in the game this afternoon, as she made some great saves up until the final whistle. Atlanta’s first shot on goal came in the 33rd minute when Kristina Larsen shot from just outside the box and magicJack goalkeeper Hope Solo made an easy save.
In the 43rd minute, magicJack defender Christie Rampone went down in their defensive end with a possible right leg injury. Rampone was out for the rest of the game, but rejoined her team on the bench in the second half. She was replaced by Meghan Schnur.
The home team was off to a quick start again in the second half. Less than a minute into play, Christen Press rebounded a shot by teammate Shannon Boxx and slid it into the lower right corner. However, Press was called offside by the sideline official and the goal did not count.
With magicJack controlling possession throughout the later minutes, Press got another scoring opportunity and put it away to seal the win. In the 64th minute, Press hit a one-time volley into the far corner for her first career goal. The cross was sent into middle by defender Marian Dalmy.
“It was my first goal so that was really exciting,” said Press. “It was so good to finish. Being a forward, we go into every game thinking our job is to score, so it’s nice to finally get that accomplished.”
After the game, Masar talked about the match and the magicJack’s season so far.
“We wanted to come out here and show how good of an actual soccer team we are,” she said. “We wanted to show everyone that we can play and we are one of the top teams in the WPS. I think we did that today. Now, we’ve got a week off and we’re going to start preparing for the next game.”
MagicJack has many top-ranked players on its roster that will be heading to the Women’s World Cup in a few weeks with the U.S. National team. Press said she thinks that during the World Cup the team is still going to be very strong.
“Although we’re going to hugely miss our players that are going to the World Cup, it’s going to be a huge opportunity for other players to step up,” she said. “Our team is so deep and there are so many great players that don’t even get the chance to play.”
MagicJack will make an effort to keep up their unbeaten streak on May 22, when the team plays the Western New York Flash in their first away game of the season. The Beat play again next Sunday, May 15th at home against the Philadelphia Independence.
Listen to audio of Christen Press talking about her win and her first pro goal below. Jessica Fainberg, corresponding for The Equalizer, chatted with Press after the game. Have a listen: