HAYWARD — WPS 2010 regular season champion FC Gold Pride (16-3-5, 53 points) finished off its remarkable regular season doing what it did virtually every game —dominating its opponent. Saturday night's victim was the Philadelphia Independence (10-10-4, 34 points) to the tune of 4-1 at Pioneer Stadium in Hayward, Calif.
Kelley O'Hara netted a pair of goals, with Marta and Christine Sinclair putting home the others. Despite the four goals, Philadelphia keeper Val Henderson kept her club in reaching distance with a number of clutch saves.
Next up for the Pride is sitting and watching Philadelphia, Washington and Boston duel it out over four days to determine who will face the Pride in the WPS Championship on Sept. 26.
Philadelphia, who finished third, will host Washington on Sunday, Sept. 19, with the winner to take on the Boston Breakers in Boston in the WPS Super Semifinal on Sept. 23.
First chance came in the seventh minute on an Independence free kick. Lori Lindsey sent in a lofted ball from 40 yards out that bounced in the box. Nicole Barnhart was able to grab it before any Philadelphia player got to it.
Not much was created on either side until the 18th minute when Kelley O'Hara was taken down just outside the 18. Marta took the free kick, but the Independence defense was able to clear it away from danger.
Tina DiMartino sent a nice through ball into Kelly Henderson in the 20th minute. Henderson's shot was targerting the near post, but Barnhart punched it off the line for corner.
On the ensuing corner, Lindsey sent it into the box for Allison Falk's head. Falk won the 50-50 ball but missed just wide of the target.
Barnhart came up with a nice save for the Pride in the 23rd minute, diving all out to save a bending DiMartino shot.
Gold Pride created its first threat at the Independence goal -- by accident. Marta had the ball in the right side in the 31st minute and whipped a cross that the Philly defense deflected.
But the deflection fluttered toward Val Henderson in goal. Before it fell just under the crossbar and in, Henderson punched it off the bar and out.
Amy Rodriguez tested Barnhart, trying to put one past the Pride keeper in the 34th minute. Her shot, from the left side of the 18 with her left foot, forced Barnhart to leap and punch the ball away, keeping it scoreless.
Christine Sinclair beat Falk off the dribble in the 38th minute, racing down the right flank before sending a low cross through the box. It went all the way to Tiffeny Milbrett whose cross was deflected out for a corner that they didn't capitalize on.
After Philadelphia cleared the corner, in the run of play in the 40th minute, Marta sent a wide ball to O'Hara who, from a horrible angle, was able to chip it over Henderson and in the side netting for a 1-0 lead.
The Marta-O'Hara combo teamed up again for a Pride 2-0 lead in the 41st minute. This time, O'Hara sent a through ball into space where Marta ran onto, beat Henderson off the dribble and shot it into the yawning net.
Sinclair was on the receiving end of a Marta pass in the 43rd. She one-touched a shot that beat Henderson, but it just went over the bar.
Philadelphia Independence started out the second half controlling possession, but with one rush up the field, the Gold Pride took a 3-0 lead.
Sinclair was fouled by Falk on the right flank. Marta took the free kick and O'Hara was on the receiving end, heading it past Henderson in the 50th minute.
But Philadelphia rebounded nicely from the goal, scoring just a minute later. Lindsey chipped a through ball that Lianne Sanderson ran onto and drilled past Barnhart, cutting the lead to 3-1.
O'Hara appeared to pull something in the Pride's next rush up the field. She had to come off, with Kiki Bosio taking her spot.
Bosio nearly got a goal in the 56th minute when Milbrett set her up for a header that Henderson stopped.
Henderson made a couple point-blank chances by Marta in the 57th minute. Kandace Wilson sent a ball into Marta inside the goal mouth that Henderson made a kick save; moments later, Henderson stuck out her hand on a Marta breakaway and grabbed the ball.
When Sinclair was given another chance, she put it away. In the 64th minute, Marta streaked down the right flank and slid a pass to the Canadian national, and she buried it past Henderson for the 4-1 lead.
If not for Henderson, the Pride would have raced out to a five-goal lead. Bosio and Milbrett were both robbed by Henderson from inside the goal mouth. Ultimately, it ended with the 4-1 result.
FC Gold Pride
Albertin Montoya, head coach
[audio:http://www.centerlinesoccer.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/100911OHara.mp3|titles=Kelley O'Hara interview]
Paul Riley, head coach