July 24, 2012
READY TO MAKE A RUN
Riley hopes to lead Fury to championship
New York Fury coach Paul Riley knows what it takes to get a team to a league championship game. After all, he has been there before.
Four times in fact, winning WPSL titles in 2006 and 2008 with the Long Island Fury and leading the expansion Philadelphia Independence to consecutive appearances in the Women’s Professional Soccer championship game.
The core of those two championship runners-up is with Riley on the Fury, and perhaps they have something to prove.
The first test comes on Wednesday (5pm) when they face the Western New York Flash in the first of two WPSL Elite semifinals at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, NY.
Ironically, it was Western New York that beat the Independence in last year’s WPS Championship game, prevailing on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in regulation and overtime, but this Flash team bears little resemblance to that one, with only a handful of role players back this year.
The other two semifinal teams are also familiar to Riley and his players, the Boston Breakers and Chicago Red Stars, two other former WPS teams.
“We are excited for an opportunity to play the three WPS clubs and being in this group is certainly a feather in the cap for our young franchise," Riley said. "It's going to be two classic matchups. So we are certainly excited at the prospect of competing against the league's best.”
Riley coached teams have faced Western New York six previous times, with only one loss, a regular season game last year, and that stinging heartbreaker in PKS in the final.
The Fury finished the regular season in third place, with a 9-3-2 record, while the Flash finished second at 9-2-3. Their two previous matches this season resulted in a 1-0 Fury win on the road, and 0-0 tie at Hofstra University.
The Flash dropped its last regular season game to the Boston Breakers 1-0 on July 22 at Sahlen’s Stadium. They have an opportunity for an interesting three-peat if they get past the Fury. Playing in the W-League in 2010, the team was crowned champions. Last season, they won the WPS title, so if they sweep through this year's playoffs on their home turf, it would be three titles in three leagues.