July 14, 2012
FURY LOOK FOR MOMENTUM AS PLAYOFFS NEAR
The New York Fury can go into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Fever knowing they have already clinched a playoff berth and are assured of a spot in the league's final four.
The Fury officially clinched the fourth and final playoff position when the New England Mutiny gave up a last minute goal to the Chesapeake Charge on Wednesday, dropping them into a 3-3 draw, and out of the playoff picture. New England needed to win all of its games in order to have a chance to catch the Fury, who would have had to lose all three of their remaining games.
"We are looking to continue our improvement as we get towards the playoffs," said Fury coach Paul Riley, who so far this season has guided the team to a 7-3-1 record.
"The main goal of the season was to make the playoffs, and now it's a case of fine-tuning the team, improving the details and making sure all opponents are scouted and sorted out," said Riley. "We are certainly the underdog going into the Final Four, but for many of us it's a tag we carried at the Philadelphia Independence for both playoff runs."
Riley was referring to the Women's Professional Soccer team he guided into the league championship game two straight years. The Fury roster includes 11 players who performed for Riley on those teams.
The Philadelphia Fever are 1-8-2. The New York Fury captured the first meeting between the two teams, 3-0 on May 31. The Fever will have a quick turnaround to get ready for Sunday's game, after losing 2-0 to the Boston Breakers on the road Saturday night.
"The Fever will be a tough opponent but we have spent the week on our ability to change formation to counter whatever is thrown in front of us," said Riley, whose team will be mostly at full strength, missing only Olympian Tobin Heath and injured Tina DiMartino.
The Fury bring a two-game winning streak into Sunday's game, and have won four of their last five, a run that has been helped along by the goal scoring of Meghan Lenczyk, who has four goals in the last four games, including a pair in last week's 4-0 win over the Mutiny.
"The players are excited to play four games, hopefully five, in the next two weeks," Riley said of the remaining slate and playoffs.
The WPSL Elite Playoffs will be played at Rochester's Sahlen's Stadium, home of the Western New York Flash. The league’s No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams face off in a 5:00 p.m. semifinal match on Wednesday, July 25, with the No. 1 and No. 4 teams playing at 8:00 p.m. The winners of the two semifinal matches will meet in a 1:00 p.m. match on Saturday July 28 to crown the first champion of the WPSL Elite League.
Right now, the playoff race is too close to call, with all four teams separated by only eight points. The Fury are the only team that still has three games remaining, so they could conceivably catch either of the two teams currently tied for first place, Western New York, who defeated Chicago 2-1 on Saturday, or Boston, who also won, defeating Philadelphia 2-0 to give them 30 points. Chicago is at 27 and the Fury at 22.