Saturday, July 17

Tampa Bay Takes Season Finale 3-0

The last time out at home, a goal in the first minute cost the Tampa Bay Hellenic the match against Atlanta. In their 2010 regular season finale Saturday evening at the Ed Radice Sports Complex the Hellenic used a first-minute goal to propel them to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Hampton Roads Piranhas.

The plot unraveled immediately for the Piranhas as an own goal left them trailing after just 37 seconds of play. Tampa Bay striker Shameka Gordon was in a dangerous position in the box, but slipped on the play, giving the Piranhas the ball. The clearance, however, was rushed and the ball smacked off a teammate and surprised back-up goalkeeper Whitney Beverly as it rolled into the back of the net.

The rest of the half saw both teams probing one another with the Hellenic getting the better of the chances. Tampa Bay’s Jasmine Johnson sent a first-time effort rolling wide off a low cross from the right.

Meanwhile, the Hellenic defense kept the Piranhas offense limited to long-range efforts as Rachel Gerdin tried twice from distance in the first 18 minutes.

In the 19th minute Tahnai Annis was left alone on the right flank for Tampa Bay. She challenged a defender and created some space to the inside before letting loose a swerving shot over the keeper from outside the area that flew just by the far upper corner.

Kara Cooper and Kirby Stenard sent two more Piranha shots off target before Annis once again threatened on another run from the right as she drove to goal before sending a shot from the edge of the box that Beverly made an excellent diving save on in the 28th minute.

The half closed with hearts skipping in stoppage time as Gordon and Johnson played a nice give-and-go on the right wing that led to an opportunity on the far side for Jo Dragotta, who put her effort wide.

Five minutes into the second half Dragotta thought she made up for the miss by heading a cross into the goal only to see the offside flag in the air. Three minutes later another Hellenic chance went for naught when a ball over the top beat the defender and left Johnson all alone with the keeper, but her quick, hard shot was stuffed by goalkeeper Victoria Johnson, who came on at the break.

The long-awaited Hellenic goal, however, finally came in the 68th minute as Tampa Bay’s Johnson slipped a shot in from the edge of the box on her final touch of the game as her substitution was pending on the sideline.

Four minutes later defender Angelique Waller found herself up in the left corner where she beat her defender twice to create space for a cross that soared to the head of Ari Dorr 13 yards out to make it 3-0.

It looked like Hampton Roads would spoil the shutout with their first goal against the Hellenic this year as a controversial penalty call sent the Piranhas to the spot when Cooper was taken down in the box in the 75th minute. Tampa Bay won, 2-0, in Virginia Beach a week ago in their first meeting of the year.

Kathleen Winsper, with no run-up to the ball, sent the shot off the top corner of the right post, however. Despite the penalty miss, the ricochet provided two more chances as the first attempt from the left side by Allison Belsterling was stopped by the keeper, who recovered well, and the rebound effort by Julia Doolittle being blocked by a defender.

The game wrapped up the 2010 season for both clubs as they finished out of contention for the division’s two playoff berths. Tampa Bay improved to 5-4-1 for the year while the Piranhas, the league’s oldest franchise, finished the year 2-6-2. Tampa finished one point behind second-place Charlotte, who fell, 2-1, to division champion Atlanta Saturday evening in the battle for the top seed.

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