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 Saturday, August 3, 2002 22:36 EST

Charge pound Spirit to keep two-point lead

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) -- Stacey Tullock, Erica Iverson and Marinette Pichon all scored second-half goals to lead the Philadelphia Charge to a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Spirit on Saturday.

Zhao Lihong added a club-record three assists for Philadelphia (11-3-5), which snapped a three-game winless streak and clinched a spot in the WUSA playoffs.

The first-place Charge maintained a two-point lead over second-place Carolina, 4-1 winners over San Jose earlier. Philadelphia also holds the edge in tiebreakers over the Courage.

Lihong has a goal and seven assists in her last eight games. Jen Mascaro had the goal for San Diego (4-11-4), which dropped its third straight.

Following a scoreless first half, Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead when Tullock flicked a header into the net off a Lihong corner kick in the 56th minute for her first career goal.

San Diego tied it two minutes later when Mascaro redirected a left cross from Amy Sauer for her first goal of the season.

Iverson gave the Charge the lead for good in the 65th minute when she headed in a Lihong corner for her second of the year.

Philadelphia completed the scoring in the 71st minute when Lihong's corner kick was punched away by Spirit goalie Carly Smolak in the direction of Pichon, who volleyed it into the net for her 14th goal of the season.

Charge goalkeeper Melissa Moore made seven saves in notching her 11th win of the season, tying her with Kristin Luckenbill of the Courage.



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