Smith Leads Charge To Season-Opening Win
Charge captain scores first goal of the game as Philly Beats Atlanta, 2-0
Saturday, April 13, 2002
By Greg Wiley
Kelly Smith scored in the 60th minute to break a scoreless tie and Zhao Lihong added another goal as the Philadelphia Charge defeated the Atlanta Beat 2-0 at Herndon Stadium Saturday night in the season-opener for both clubs. The Charge (1-0) avenged last season's playoff loss to Beat (0-1), while also defeating the club for the first time in four regular-season contests.
"This was a great win for us," Charge head coach Mark Krikorian said. "Atlanta is a tough team and to win on their turf is huge, regardless if this is the first game."
Melissa Moore needed to make only four saves for the Charge, who are 1-1-2 all-time versus the Beat not including postseason play. Philadelphia's defensive corps, led by Heather Mitts and Jenny Benson, managed to hold the dangerous scoring duo of Cindy Parlow and Charmaine Hooper scoreless, as the Charge improved to 2-0 all-time in season-opening contests. Center backs Jennifer Tietjen and Erica Iverson also played well for the Charge, who were the highest scoring team in the league in 2001 and scored 31 goals in the 2002 preseason.
Smith got the scoring started in the 60th minute. After the Charge captain was pushed from behind by Atlanta's Sun Wen, the English national team member sent a beautifully placed direct kick into the near post's upper-90 corner, just outside of the outreached hands of Beat goalkeeper Briana Scurry. The free kick was taken 20 yards out, just outside the right corner of the penalty area.
Twelve minutes later, Charge forward Marinette Pichon, who came in to start the second half, worked hard to force a loose ball in the Beat penalty area and Zhao gathered the ball and calmly placed it over Scurry in the far-side netting.
"It feels good, not only to score, but to get our first win under our belt so early," Smith said. "We have worked hard all preseason and to see our result is great."
Pichon traveled to Atlanta on Thursday, a day earlier than the rest of her teammates, from France, where she was training with the French national team. Pichon will travel back to France on Sunday for her country's World Cup qualifier later this week.
Philadelphia and Atlanta did battle in the semifinal round of the WUSA postseason a year ago. In that game, the Charge yielded a 2-0 lead and fell 3-2 in double overtime.
The Charge next travel to New York to face the Power on Saturday, April 27 starting at 7 pm.
The Charge had their first solid scoring opportunity of the year in the 31st minute of play. After winning the ball in midfield, Zhao worked a brilliant give-and-go sequence with forward Mandy Clemens on the right flank. Zhao got free along the endline and delivered a cross to Smith, who full-volleyed the ball over the net.
Five minutes later, Smith again had a scoring opportunity from 18 yards out, but after taking a pass from rookie midfielder Mary-Frances Monroe and getting around one Beat defender, Smith shot the ball just wide of the net.
The Beat also had some quality scoring chances. In the 39th minute, Beat midfielder Sun Wen headed a cross just wide of the net to keep the score deadlocked at 0-0 heading into the locker room.
Notes: Smith was issued a yellow card in the 44th minute for dissent ... Benson was also issued a yellow card in the 58th minute for a hard slide tackle on Parlow ... Pichon entered the game to start the second half for Liu Ailing, who was Philadelphia's leading scorer last season ... The Charge won last year' s season opener 2-0 over the San Diego Spirit.
Scoring Summary: PHI - Smith (direct kick) 60th minute; Zhao Lihong (unassisted) 72nd minute. ATL - None. Lineups/Stats: PHI - Melissa Moore GK; Jenny Benson D; Heather Mitts D; Jennifer Tietjen D; Erica Iverson D; Mary-Frances Monroe M; Lorrie Fair M; Zhao Lihong M; Liu Ailing M (Marinette Pichon, 45); Mandy Clemens F; Kelly Smith F. TOTAL SHOTS: 11; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 23; OFFSIDES: 6; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: Moore 3; CAUTIONS: Smith (44), Benson (58); EJECTIONS: None.
Lineups/Stats: ATL - Briana Scurry GK; Liping Wang D; Kylie Bivens D; Sharotta Nonen D; Julie Augustyniak D; Nikki Serlenga M; Sun Wen M; Marci Miller M; Charmaine Hooper F (Emily Burt 87); Cindy Parlow F; Kelly Cagle F (Lisa Krzykowski). TOTAL SHOTS: 8; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 18; OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: Scurry 3; CAUTIONS: None; EJECTIONS: None. Referee: Ricardo Salazar. Assistants: Jon Wilson, Brian D'Amato. Attendance: 10,070.
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