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Local Sports

August 24, 2013

Wambach going for gold in women's pro playoffs

Staff Report

U.S. Olympic champion Abby Wambach is looking for another golden finish this weekend.

Wambach will lead the Western New York Flash into a home semifinal against Sky Blue FC at 8 p.m. Saturday in the National Women's Soccer League playoffs. The other semifinal for the first-year professional women's soccer league pits Portland Thorns FC against host FC Kansas City at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Saturday's winners will play for the championship Aug. 31 at a site and time to be determined.

One of the marquee players on the 2012 Olympic champion U.S. National Team, Wambach scored her 11th goal of the season during a 2-1 victory over the Boston Breakers in the regular-season finale for both teams Aug. 17.

Wambach, who visited the now-defunct National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta in 2008, helped the Flash close the regular season on a seven-game unbeaten streak to clinch the top seed for playoffs. Western New York went 10-4-8 during the regular season for 38 points, which tied Kansas City (11-6-5) and Portland (11-6-5). Sky Blue (10-6-6) took the final playoff spot in the eight-team league with 36 points.

The Flash went 3-1 against Sky Blue in the regular season, including two victories during a nine-game unbeaten run from May 1-June 28.

Sky Blue spent more than three months in first place but won one of its last seven games. That allowed Western New York to take over the top spot for the first time Aug. 17. NWSL play started in April.

Midfielder Kelley O'Hara (right ankle) and defender Caitlin Foord (left foot) will not play Saturday against the Flash because of injuries. Flash defender Alex Sahlen (left foot) also will miss the game, which will be televised on Fox Sports 2.

The formation of the NWSL was announced by U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati in November of 2012. The NWSL is the latest professional women's soccer league, following the defunct Women's United Soccer Association and Women's Professional Soccer leagues.

The Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Seattle Reign FC and Washington Spirit also played in the NWSL this season.

Cooperstown Central and Oneonta State graduate Patrick Donnelly serves the NWSL as its director of communications. Donnelly took the position in February after spending five months in the sports information department at UCLA. He also was part of the communications department for Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy from 1999-2012.

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