Amy Rodriguez had failed on a breakaway and done little when other chances came her way, but with time running out on her Philadelphia Independence, she came through in a big way.
The former USC star from Lake Forest knocked home a rebound in the 88th minute to pull Philly even with the Western New York Flash in the Women's Professional Soccer final Saturday in Rochester, N.Y. It only delayed the disappointment.
The Flash, featuring a half-dozen Southern California products, prevailed on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw, handing A-Rod and the Independence their second straight title-game defeat.
Rodriguez's second playoff goal, a swift shot from a sharp angle that beat WNY goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, was the apex of a dramatic, often thrilling final that featured a red card, a would-be winner off the crossbar, a diving save to force penalties and another diving stop to win the shootout.
The red card went to second-half substitute Beverly Goebel, from Moreno Valley, who left the Flash with 10 players after picking up two yellow cards in overtime. San Clemente's McCall Zerboni converted the third penalty for Western New York, which celebrated when Harris stopped Laura Del Rio after the first nine shooters converted.
Christine Sinclair, who scored the Flash's goal in the 64th minute, and Marta claimed back-to-back titles. The star forwards, along with defenders Ali Riley (Pacific Palisades) and Kandace Wilson (Los Angeles), were key figures last year for FC Gold Pride, which disbanded after winning WPS's second championship.
Western New York's starting lineup included Riley, rookie forward Alex Morgan, from Diamond Bar, and WPS Defender of the Year Whitney Engen, from Rolling Hills Estates. Zerboni came on midway through overtime; Wilson was on the 18-man roster but did not play.