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Pali rallies past Force 5-2

Colorado Force News Release -

Saturday, July 25, 2009

PACIFIC PALISADES, CA -- After building a 2-1 lead in the second half against the defending W-League champion, the Colorado Force fell 5-2 to the Pali Blues in the Western Conference championship Saturday.

The Force took a 2-1 lead in the 70th minute on a goal by Nikki Marshall. Pali tied the match in the 75th minute when Christen Press notched her second goal of the match for Pali. The tie score held until the 87th minute, when Pali broke the deadlock on a booming shot by midfield Kelly O’Hara from outside the penalty area.

At that point, Colorado pushed forward to try and gain the tying goal, exposing the defense to Pali’s high-scoring offense. Iris Mora, a member of the Mexican national team, took advantage of the situation to score unassisted goals in both the 90th minute and in stoppage time to close the scoring.

“The girls played out of their skins – it was an unbelievable performance,” said Force Coach Craig Deacon. “Anyone who watched the game would say we were just very unlucky. The score line does not reflect the game at all.”

The loss ends the Force season with a record of 4-3-6, and halted a three-match winning streak. It was the first playoff appearance for the Force since 1998, when Colorado won the W-League’s W-2 national title.

Pali, 10-0-3, will move on to play the W-League’s top regular season team, the Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues, 12-0-2, of Newburgh, N.Y., in next weekend’s semifinals.

Pali started the scoring in the 11th minute on the first goal by Press, a Stanford University star.

Colorado played a physical first half and created several scoring chances, but couldn’t gain the equalizer before halftime.

The Force got its first goal in the 60th minute, tying the match at 1-1 when Nikki Marshall scored on a crossing pass from fellow striker Shay Powell.

Colorado then took the lead in the 72nd minute on a second Marshall goal – this one assisted by Lisa Franke.

The Colorado lead forced Pali – which has yet to lose in two years of W-League play – to be in the rare position of playing from behind. After Press pulled Pali even, the game appeared to be headed to overtime before the final torrent of goals.

“When you push numbers forward to try and get the equalizing goal, space occurs,” Deacon said. “They (Pali) finished their chances. It’s as simple as that.”

Deacon also thanked Colorado’s fans for their support. “The girls loved it, we had a great time this season,” he said. “We’ll look forward to being back next year.”

Game notes:

-Christen Press’s second goal for Pali was assisted by Lauren Cheney, who had just returned to the Blues after playing for the U.S. National Team on Wednesday night against Canada. Cheney also had an assist in that match, a 1-0 win for the U.S.

-With her two goals Saturday, Marshall finished the season as the leading scorer for the Force with six goals.

-With the win Saturday, Pali stretched its unbeaten string to 27 matches, in which the team has a record of 24-0-3.

-Colorado’s two goals matched the most scored on Pali this season. The Blues allowed two goals in two previous matches.

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