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Thursday, August 18, 2011
MagicJack reaches the WPS semifinals


Everything just keeps going magicJack's way. After a strong 3-1 win over the Breakers on Wednesday night in Boca Raton, Abby Wambach & Co. are headed to Philadelphia to face the Independence in the Women's Professional Soccer super semifinal Saturday.

Wambach, also the coach of magicJack, got her side on the scoreboard first just six minutes into the game when Boston left her wide open in the box for a right-footed finish. She added a penalty kick goal in the second half. Including the regular season, Wambach has now scored 11 goals in 10 games this season.

Boston came into the playoffs at 5-9-4 and was a clear underdog in the match, but it made things interesting in the first half. Rookie Keelin Winters scored to tie the match at 1-1 in the 31st minute, and Boston found itself all even with magicJack at halftime.

But magicJack, which started six U.S. women's national team members in the match, hit its stride in the second half and never looked back. Wambach converted the penalty in the 57th minute after Huffman was fouled in the box. In the 61st minute, Christen Press showed why she was named rookie of the year on Wednesday afternoon. After a good run into the box, she cut around Boston defender Taryn Hemmings and passed to a wide-open Megan Rapinoe, who headed home the final goal of the game.

Boston's injured star midfielder, Kelly Smith, subbed into the match in the 69th minute and the Breakers sprung to life for a bit, but couldn't force many shots on magicJack goalkeeper Jill Loyden. Smith memorably played on an injured left ankle and converted a penalty kick in England's World Cup quarterfinal loss to France last month, but had only played 45 minutes since returning to the Breakers. She was clearly not near 100 percent.

Now magicJack (10-7-2) faces Philadelphia (11-4-3) on Saturday on just two days' rest. The Independence boast the best defense in the league as well Spanish playmaker Veronica Boquette, who Wednesday was named the WPS Player of the Year. The Independence is 9-1-1 when Boquette (5 goals, 4 assists) appears in a match, though her only loss this year was against magicJack in the season finale. Boquette is the first Player of the Year not named Marta in WPS' three-year history.

The winner of Saturday's match will face a very well-rested Western New York Flash side on Aug. 27 in Rochester, N.Y. The Flash, led by the dangerous forward combination of Marta and Christine Sinclair, finished first in WPS and won an automatic berth in the title game, which they will also host.

WPS awards

In addition to Boquette's player of the year and Press' rookie of the year wins, a few more awards were handed out Wednesday. Western New York's Ashlyn Harris and Whitney Engen were named goalkeeper and defender of the year, respectively. Harris played every minute for a Flash defense that surrendered one goal per game and finished in a tie with Philadelphia for best goals-against average this season. Philadelphia coach Paul Riley, who guided his team through the summer despite losing key players to the World Cup, won his second consecutive coach of the year award.