There were many side stories to last night's contest between the Philadelphia Charge and the New York Power. Under the smoke-filled skies of Villanova Stadium, 6,303 fans witnessed the return of former Charge goalkeeper (and WUSA Founding member) Saskia Webber (traded to New York following the 2001 season) and the match-up of New York's Ronnie Fair with her twin sister Lorrie Fair coupled with another outstanding effort by the Charge defensive four and goalkeeper Melissa Moore. Then there was Charge forward Marinette Pichon.
Early last week, it was announced that Pichon was selected as the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) Player of the Month for June. Riding high on her accolades and the team's performance all season long, Pichon went out and scored her first career hat trick in leading Philadelphia to a 3-1 victory over New York. Her efforts did not go unnoticed as Pichon was named the WUSA Player of the Week easily beating San Diego's Julie Foudy for the honor. With 12 goals and 25 points on the season, Pichon rests atop the WUSA in both categories.
Back to back goals by Pichon put Philadelphia up 2-0. Pichon got in behind the New York defense leading to her first goal of the night; just 76 seconds later, Pichon took a rebound off the crossbar following a Mandy Clemens header. I saw her (Pichon) right in front of the goal so I thought maybe it would be perfect for me to hit it right off the crossbar, joked Clemens. In a more serious note, Clemens discussed her changing role going from starter to substitute, I have to be honest with you it hasn't been easy but I think it's definitely challenged me as a player and challenged my character and I think what's most important is the team and we've been successful so you have to put aside yourself and what you may be wanting but you have to put that aside and say I'm in this for the team...I've been hungry and ready and I just gave it my all.
Pichon got the hat trick on a shot to the lower right corner from the six-yard box that beat a defenseless Webber sealing the win for Philadelphia. With her goals, Pichon became the Charge's all-time leading scorer and averages one goal every 76.9 minutes.
Philadelphia peppered their former goalkeeper with 21 shots (11 shots on goal) with eight shots on goal coming in the second half. Mary Frances Monroe's shot (wide right) on a cross from Kerry Connors was a harbinger of things to come for Webber. Philadelphia's Zhao Lihong shot in the 34th minute almost accounted for the night's first goal. Webber made a great diving save in the box. Webber tonight was outstanding She couldn't do anymore than she did tonight...said Power Head Coach, Pat Farmer. She couldn't play any better...I'm sure this was emotionally a big game for her. Added Webber, I was really nervous before the game coming back to the stadium...this is where I started my career.
In the second half both teams had excellent scoring opportunities. New York's Tiffeny Milbrett and Pichon traded great shots on goal in the 57th and 58th minutes, respectively. Lihong, who had three shots on goal and one assist on the night, threw another opportunity at Webber in the 71st minute and you could sense the dam about to burst. As Pichon was getting more room to move, she fired to shots in the 73rd and 75th minutes before finally breaking the deadlock in the 77th minute, beating New York defender Kristy Whelchel.
Before the dust could settle, Pichon notched her second of the night in the 79th minute. Mandy did a great job in getting up and heading the ball back toward the goal and she made it a difficult ball for them to deal with and fortunately it came off the crossbar and Pichon's pretty good at hitting the ball out of the air, added Charge Head Coach, Mark Krikorian. ...Eventually a great player like Pichon is going to get her opportunities over ninety minutes and she did and she put them away and that is a credit to her. She is probably the hottest player in the league right now, said Farmer
New York mounted a brief comeback in the final minutes of the game. Krista Davey scored in the 86th minute breaking up Melissa Moore's shutout bid and almost tied the game in the 90th minute. After Pichon scored her third of the night in extra time, New York had two more meaningless shots in Moore's direction. [Our defense] was pretty good actually except for the last ten minutes...we lost a bit of concentration and gave them an opportunity to have some easier serves in the box...I think we do defend well as a team...said Krikorian. Moore had another spectacular game making 7 of 8 saves and her goals-against-average of 0.85 leads the WUSA and continues to make a serious run for goalkeeper of the year. New York's Ronnie fair was held to one shot on goal while twin-sister Lorrie had four shots (two on goal) and one assist.
Philadelphia once again owns the league's best record along with having the league's leading scorer and leading goalkeeper. The playoffs are about five weeks away but Philadelphia is not looking to August; they're looking only at this Sunday's match-up on the road against Mia Hamm and the Washington Freedom. The results will take care of themselves if we stay focused and work hard together...let's go out, let's compete, let's find a way to get a result and let's move onto the next match, said Krikorian.
The Philadelphia Charge plays four more games at Villanova Stadium during the regular season. To order your season tickets, Fan/Family packs, group tickets, and or birthday packages, call the Charge ticket office at 215.467.GOAL. You can also order single game tickets by calling Ticket Master at 215.336.2000 or 856.338.9000 or 302.984.2000.
Be sure to tune in The Topcat & Taggart Sports Show each and every Sunday from 4:30-5:30PM. Each week, your favorite player will appear on Inside the Charge. The studio phone lines are 856.227.1360 and 856.232.7077.