- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2001


New formation, same result.
The Washington Freedom hoped to change their downward slide inthe Women's United Soccer Association last night by shifting to a more-defensive 4-4-2 formation in their match against the Bay Area CyberRays at RFK Stadium.
The new look failed as Bay Area limped away with a 3-2 victory, scoring all three of its goals including the game-winner in the 92nd minute on defensive lapses by the Freedom.
"It seems the breakdowns we have are major breakdowns," Freedom forward Mia Hamm said.
Hamm scored twice on beautifully placed free kicks that evened the score in the eighth and 81st minutes, but it was another national team star who made the difference in a brutal match that saw five yellow cards issued in the second half.
CyberRays defender Brandi Chastain assisted on all three of her team's goals, including back-heeling the game-winning pass through three Washington defenders to Bay Area forward Katia.
The Brazilian received the pass deep on the left side of the Washington box and drilled a low ball to the far post under diving goalkeeper Erin Fahey.
The Freedom argued for an offsides call, but after netting the ball Katia ran toward her teammates crossing her hands in front of her chest to signal a no-call.
With the victory, the CyberRays (6-4-3) remained the WUSA's hottest team going into the final stretch of the season. They have not lost in their past seven games.
Meanwhile, the Freedom have dropped six of their last eight games. With all but one of their final seven against opponents currently above them, the Freedom (5-7-2) are in trouble for the playoffs.
"I think every game's a must-win situation," Hamm said. "I think that we've put ourselves in a position that we have no choice."
The CyberRays struck first in the fifth minute on a poorly defended cross from the right side by Katia.
The ball bounced around in the box before Bay Area forward Julie Murray got a foot on it. She sent it to the top of the box, where midfielder Tisha Venturini lobbed a one-timer over the defense to the waiting head of Chastain. Chastain tried going top shelf on Fahey, but the leaping Freedom goalie managed to get a fist on it and knock it off the crossbar.
The rebound, though, went straight to onrushing Bay Area forward Christina Bell, who dived at the low-bouncing ball and headed it across the line. Chastain and Venturini were awarded assists.
After Hamm's first free kick found the net all of her four goals this season have come off penalties Katia again took advantage of a defensive lapse.
Taking a pass from Chastain at about 35 yards out, the Brazilian was allowed to dribble straight toward the goal without a Washington defender approaching her. After running 12 yards, she lofted a high shot that found Fahey too far off her line in the 35th minute. The Freedom keeper backpedaled and dived but could not prevent the ball from dipping under the crossbar.
Despite being down 2-1 at halftime, Washington came out firing. The Freedom outshot the CyberRays 17-2 in the second half. Starting forward Monica Gerardo and substitute midfielder Justi Baumgardt had good chances to tie or get the go-ahead goal, but Bay Area goalie LaKeysia Beene made acrobatic saves.
"They were pushing, and we were on our heels right from the opening whistle of that second half," Chastain said. "They came out with a little more heart, a little more determination, and we backed it up."
Freedom midfielder Bai Jie went out in the 40th minute with a cut on her left thumb that required four stitches.

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