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Impact Enter Historic Weekend
Playoff berth, Commonwealth Cup on the line

Fredericksburg Impact News Release -

Friday, July 13, 2012

- In only their second year as a franchise, the Fredericksburg Impact (5-3-2, 17 points) look to make history in the final week of the W-League season as they battle two in-state rivals. On Saturday, Fredericksburg takes on the Northern Virginia Majestics (2-9-1) at Hellwig Memorial Field Stadium at 7 p.m. ET, followed by a Sunday match-up with the Virginia Beach Piranhas (5-2-3, 18 points).

Sunday's home game against the Piranhas will take place at the University of Mary Washington’s Battleground Stadium at 5 p.m ET. Both a playoff berth and the Commonwealth Cup, a competition between all three Virginia teams, are at stake.

The Piranhas or the Impact will claim the second playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and earn the right to play the D.C. United Women — the Atlantic Division Champions and Eastern Conference’s top seed — in next Saturday’s conference semifinals at the Maryland SoccerPlex, in Germantown, Md.

While there are a variety of scenarios that could allow the Impact to advance, the simplest way will be for them to win the two games, which would allow them to achieve both accomplishments for the first time.

“These last two games are the most important in the team’s history,” coach Jen Woodie said. “Our motivation is definitely there and we can’t wait to get on the field to play it out.”

The Impact have had success against both squads this year, winning both games against the Majestics by a combined score of 8-1.  However, both games against the Piranhas have been close and exciting affairs.  In the first game, Fredericksburg scored two goals in the final eight minutes to squeak out a win at home.  The rematch between the two in Virginia Beach ended in a scoreless draw.

Defender Carter Blair, who was with the Impact last season, said she noticed a lot of changes at the beginning of this season, which has led to the team’s success.

“The environment was different from the first training session,” Blair said. “The competition was there at the start, and it actually picked up in intensity as the season has gone on. Near the end of last year, we barely had enough players to field a team. Now [coach] Woodie has to figure out which 18 players are going to dress each game.”

Goalkeeper Melissa Pacheco, a newcomer to this year’s squad, said the primary reason for success has been the input from so many players.

“I wasn’t on last year’s team, but this team has thrown everything they’ve had into every game we’ve player. Everyone has contributed this season,” she said. “In our last game [a 5-0 win over Dayton], a different player scored each goal. That’s a pretty powerful weapon for a team.”

She’s right; 12 different players have scored for the Impact this season, and 15 players have at least one point.

As for Saturday’s game against the Majestics, Woodie is making sure Fredericksburg doesn’t look past them.

“There are two teams standing in our way,” she said. “If we don’t get the win Saturday, then it might not matter when it comes to kickoff on Sunday. We need to be completely focused on Saturday night, and then we’ll put our attention to Sunday.”

If the Impact comes out victorious Saturday, then Sunday’s game against the Piranhas is for all the marbles. Blair said she hopes it comes down to that.

“We’ve got a pretty intense rivalry going on with the Beach. We’re both evenly matched, and both games against them this year have been pretty physical,” Blair said. “Plus, it’d be nice to beat out a team that has so much history behind it for a playoff spot.”

To do that, the Impact need to contain the two most dangerous players for the Piranhas, Rasheeda Ansari and Esther Anyanwu, both of whom have four goals on the season. Emily Kittleson helps run the offensive side of the ball, contributing four assists on the year.

Defensively, Fredericksburg will need to solve Piranhas’ goalkeeper Marbel Egwuenu, who has only allowed seven goals in 10 games this season.

The Impact will need big performances from Becca Wann (5 goals), and Missy Wycinsky (3 goals and 5 assists) on the offensive end. Other players who will play key roles this weekend include midfielders Kelsey Pardue, Emily Dale and Becca Fisher, while Sandra Matute, Blair and Crystal Koczot will try to clamp down on the opposition’s attack.

If the Impact are feeling any pressure heading into the weekend, they don’t show any signs of it, at least not according to Blair.

“We go into every game expecting to win this year. The other players from last year have noticed the difference and feel the same way,” she said. “With the commitment everyone has, there’s no reason this team can’t go into the playoffs.”

Pacheco echoed those sentiments.

“Whatever 10 players are in front of me, they know I have their back and I know they’ve got mine. It’s a great feeling!”

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