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Oh, Canada! Sinclair scores twice to give Gold Pride the win over Philadelphia

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Christine Sinclair, a veteran of the Canadian National Team, scores twice on Canada Night in a 2-0 Gold Pride victory over the Philadelphia Independence. Photo: Joe Santos, centerlinesoccer.com

On Canada night at Pioneer Stadium on the campus of Cal State University-East Bay, FC Gold Pride was led by its Canadian duo of Christine Sinclair and Candace Chapman en route to a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Independence Saturday night.

Sinclair scored two goals, one in each half, while Chapman spearheaded the strong defensive back line to preserve the clean sheet for its keeper Brittany Cameron.

Cameron, a Dublin, Calif., native, recorded her second win in as many starts in Womens' Professional Soccer, and her first clean sheet. The win helped the Pride (10-3-1, 31 points) take a stranglehold of first-place, extending its lead over Philadelphia (6-5-3, 21 points) to 10 points with 10 games to go in the season.

Gold Pride went ahead in the 45th minute, just before halftime. Sinclair, who was in the thick of every significant chance the Pride had in the half, made a run into the box and volleyed home a Solveig Gulbrandsen cross to beat Independence keeper Val Henderson on the near side for the 1-0 lead they took into the half.

It was a lead the Pride would not relinquish. They secured the win with Sinclair's goal late in the second half.

Sinclair made her hard work pay off with her second goal in the 81st minute. Marta shrugged off an attempted tackle by Holmfridur Magnusdottir and streaked down the left flank. She cut it across to the middle and fed Camille Abily with a pass who quickly found Sinclair. With no hesitation, Sinclair shot it to the near post past Henderson for her second goal, making it 2-0 Gold Pride, which they would hold onto for the win.
Here are the notes from each half on how the game unfolded.

First Half
FC Gold Pride pressured the goal early. An early through ball from Canadian national team striker Christine Sinclair sent in Camille Abily who crossed it to Marta, but that was broken up by Allison Falk in the first minute.

Moments later, Abily sent in Tiffeny Milbrett, but she was wrestled off the ball by Falk and sent it out for a corner that the Pride couldn't capitalize on. In the fourth minute, Sinclair collected a ricochet off a Kandace Wilson long throw and fired a left-footed shot from 20 yards out that sailed high.

In the eighth minute, Marta had her first opportunity, and it was the best of the Pride's several rushes down the field. Sinclair, who was facilitating well in the early going from her striker position, sent a ball into the streaking Marta who beat her defender before toeing a shot that Independence keeper Val Henderson deflected and picked up for the save.

Sinclair, taking a break from her passing, nearly put the Pride on top in the 14th minute. After Abily sent in a well-placed corner that Henderson batted away. On the rebound, Sinclair flicked a shot over her body with her back to the goal, and it just went high, grazing the crossbar on the way out.

Philadelphia had a lot of trouble solving the defensive line of Candace Chapman, Kandace Wilson, Kristen Graczyk and Ali Riley, but they did see some daylight in the 21st minute. It was Joanna Lohman who got open, taking a shot from 22 yards out, but off target.

After the Lohman opportunity, Philadelphia used that momentum to create its next chance in the 23rd minute. Danesha Adams sent a diagonal through ball into Lyndsey Patterson behind the defense, but Riley tracked down Patterson, taking her down in the process.

Riley's tackle, in referee Allan Chapman's viewpoint, was ball first before she tackled her in the box. So instead of a penalty for Philadelphia, the Pride had the possession.

FC Gold Pride progressed its possession up the field until Marta had the ball at the Philadelphia box in the 25th minute. Marta gave a square pass to Sinclair who was open momentarily in the box about to take her shot until Falk made a potential goal-saving sliding tackle and keeping the game scoreless in the process.

After the early Pride surge, Philadelphia began to even out the possession battle, stringing together passes in the midfield before trying to send its forwards in with long balls. One of those through passes came in the 30th minute when Tina DiMartino got behind the defense and settled for a cross that Lohman couldn't head home.

Philadelphia was awarded with a free kick in the 35th minute. Holmfridur Magnusdottir took the kick that was headed away by Abily. Abily's clearance went right to Jen Buczkowski who chipped it in the box for Caroline Seger, but Pride keeper Brittany Cameron outraced her to the ball.

On the ensuing possession, Solveig Gulbrandsen was targeted in the box and was dispossessed by the Philadelphia back line. The deflection went back to Sinclair who weaved through traffic and took a shot, but it was too weak to beat Henderson, keeping the game scoreless in the 36th minute.

Gold Pride lost possession off a poorly-executed back pass from Gulbrandsen to Becky Edwards in the 44th minute. Patterson won a corner for the Independence. Magnusdottir took the corner and placed it right into the six, but Cameron came off her line to punch it away to safety.

Second Half
Sinclair nearly put in her second goal of the match when she timed her run perfectly on an Abily lofted pass. With the Independence shouting for an offside call, Sinclair took a couple touches and hit a shot that Henderson punched out for a corner. Gold Pride couldn't capitalize on the corner and it remained 1-0 Pride in the 48th minute.

And in the 52nd minute, Sinclair continued to pepper the Independence goal with her shot. After Marta and Abily teamed up for a give and go, Abily sent it to Sinclair, who took a lofted shot, trying to beat Henderson to the far-side upper 90. Henderson was able to thwart the chance, though.

Philadelphia put its first shot on target in the 57th minute. It was a seemingly harmless attempt by Adams, who was taking on all four Pride defenders. Adams ripped a shot from 28 yards out that Cameron needed to dive to stop. Cameron didn't handle it cleanly, but jumped on the rebound to keep the shutout in tact.

Philadelphia used most of its energy on stopping Marta, which they had good success in doing, for the most part. Marta was visible in her frustration with the physical play on her, yelling for foul calls in the 60th and 61st minutes to no avail. Marta seemed to dribble past Estelle Johnson but was tripped up and not given the call -- that seemed to spark her limit.

Philadelphia made a hard push for goal in the 70th minute. On a free kick, Tiffeny Milbrett got behind the ball and used her body to clear it away to safety for the moment; and less than a minute later, DiMartino was just outside the box looking to even the score but Chapman got behind the shot to block it away and start the Pride counterattack.

Gold Pride's duo of Marta and Sinclair teamed up again in the 76th minute to get behind the Independence defense. Sinclair sprinted with the ball to the Philadelphia 40 before giving it to Marta and continuing her run.

Marta slotted a pass for Sinclair into the box that was a hair too long, giving Henderson the opportunity to come off her line and grab it before Sinclair got a boot to it.

Philadelphia didn't come close to putting one past Cameron in the final nine minutes; meanwhile the Pride continued to press for a third goal - almost getting it when Sinclair sent Marta in for a breakaway. Marta was tripped up by Henderson but no foul was called, and the game ended in a 2-0 Pride win.

Game notes: Missing the game for Philadelphia were Amy Rodriguez, Heather Mitts and Lori Lindsey, all playing for the United States women's national team. • • • For the Gold Pride, Rachel Buehler, Nicole Barnhart, Shannon Boxx and Kelley O'Hara were all out with the USWNT, too. • • • Substitutions: Sarah Senty for Lyndsey Patterson (Philly, 63rd); Lianne Sanderson for Jen Buczkowski (Philly, 69th); Kiki Bosio for Solveig Gulbrandsen (FCGP, 79th); Kaley Fountain for Tiffeny Milbrett (FCGP, 85th); Karina Maruyama for Estelle Johnson (Philly, 85th); Carrie Dew for Camille Abily (FCGP, 87th). • • • Attendance: 2,576. • • • Referees: Allan Chapman, head official; Adam Brugman and Maurizio Laudani, sideline officials; and Jen Bennet, fourth official.