- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2001


Mia Hamm turned on the juice in the first half, and Bai Jie caused another Power outage in the second.

Each scored a goal for Washington at RFK Stadium yesterday as the Freedom kept their playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 victory over the New York Power.

The win did not lift Washington (6-7-2) into the WUSA's fourth and final playoff spot, but the team is in considerably better position to gain the berth after defeating second-place New York (6-4-5).

For the Freedom to move up in the standings, they will need to continue yesterday's excellent soccer. Four of their six remaining regular season games are against opponents with better records.

"We really needed these three points, and hopefully that will give us confidence going into next week," Hamm said.

In the teams' first meeting at New York in May, Bai scored two goals including the game-winner in stoppage time.

Her goal yesterday to clinch the win did not occur in such dramatic fashion, but it provided the same effect. Her low shot in the 80th minute got past New York goalkeeper and fellow Chinese national team member Gao Hong.

"[It was] a big relief and a big-time finish by Bai Jie," Hamm said.

Washington forward Pretinha earned the assist when she contained a misdirected header by a Power defender at the top of the box and passed to Bai, who ran in from the right wing for the one-timer. Pretinha, who replaced starting forward Monica Gerardo in the 35th minute, had not earned a goal or an assist in the last six games.

After the go-ahead goal, Washington's defense held off a frantic New York offense that took four dangerous corner kicks in the final 10 minutes. On one in the 88th minute, Freedom keeper Siri Mullinix was screened from the in-curving ball, but Washington midfielder Krista Davey cleared it away.

"This was a big confidence boost for us that for the last 10 minutes we held them," Hamm said.

Hamm scored her first goal in the run of play this season on a diving header in the 16th minute. Washington defender Skylar Little lobbed a pass toward goal, and Hamm dived in front of New York midfielder Ronnie Fair to send the ball into the right side of the net. Freedom midfielder Anne Makinen also was awarded an assist on the goal for her first point of the season.

"It's nice [to score a goal in the course of play], but I'm just happy our team came out with a win today," Hamm said. "I was able to help, but I think every single player out there … really made an impact and made a difference for us."

New York's lone goal came in the 53rd minute by Power forward Tiffany Milbrett the WUSA's leading scorer. Her eleventh goal of the season came on a rare letdown by Washington's backline.

After containing the ball to shut down a New York attack, Mullinix did not wait long enough for her four defenders to move forward into position. The goalie's long ball to the other half of the field was immediately headed back by Power defender Nel Fettig.

Milbrett, who had stayed on side, raced to the top of the box where she met the ball on the first bounce and blasted a left-footed half-volley inside the right post.

It was the only shot on goal of the game for New York.

"The one major shot they got, Tiffany buried," Hamm said.

Note Freedom defender Emmy Barr went down in the eighth minute after bumping the left side of her forehead on Power midfielder Jessica Feifer. The Freedom played a man down through the 12th minute while Washington trainers attended to Barr's cut… .

Barr was replaced in the 40th minute by Carrie Moore, who played in the first game of her career.

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