ROCHESTER, N.Y. — From his perch on the Flash bench, Aaran Lines was hoping for a third goal. From the comfort of the post-match media session, Lines said that, in hindsight, he was pleased to see his club hold onto a 2-1 lead for the entirety of the second half against previously unbeaten Sky Blue FC.
“We knew they’d come out buzzing in the second half and try to put us under pressure,” Lines said after the Flash snapped a season-opening, three-match winless skid. “I was hoping we’d get that third. But now that we know the score line I’ll actually take the 2-1 victory because it’s nice to know that my team can manage a lead for 45 minutes.”
Abby Wambach, who netted the game-winner in the 20th minute upon returning from a very well publicized concussion, pointed to a specific sequence inside 10 minutes to play as a moment when things came together for a Flash team unaccustomed to struggles.
“There was this one sequence – blocked shot, blocked shot, (Adrianna Franch) makes a save,” Wambach recalled. “Right then I knew that we had something. We had crossed over a threshold into a believing mentality.”
The Flash had scored first in their last two matches but held those leads for a grand total of 11 minutes and had only one point to show for it.
“I’m glad that we had the guts and the courage to step up in that moment,” Wambach said.
The unsung defensive hero during that aforementioned flurry was Alex Sahlen, the outside back who is oft-maligned since she is the daughter of the owner and the wife of the head coach. Yet Sahlen’s dogged determination in fending off Sky Blue’s search for an equalizer was emblematic of what was making Lines smile after the match.
“I thought the attitude and the mentality was massive throughout the whole team today,” he said. “The cohesion was better than what it’s been. Obviously it needs work still. We’re a work in progress.”
Player and coach were effusive about how the team protected its lead, but the manner in which they got the lead also represented new ground for the 2013 club. Led by Samantha Kerr’s total domination of the left side, the Flash lorded over their visitors throughout the opening half and on numerous occasions had a chance to extend their 2-0 lead. Only a goal against the run of play in the 44th minute made the score appear manageable for Sky Blue FC at the break.
“Disappointed to concede there just before the half,” Lines sad. “I was very happy. We came out hungry and we came out aggressive which was very important. We didn’t see a lot of that in the previous games. We came out and we created. Best half of the season.
The Flash have the weekend off and do not play again until May 11 when FC Kansas City comes to Sahlen’s Stadium. With a win under their belts — and a gutsy win at that — the Flash are hoping things will continue to move in the right direction.
“Psychologically, very important for us going forward,” Lines said.
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