- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 14, 2002

The Washington Freedom celebrated the opening of their second season with the worst loss in club history. That's saying a lot considering the Freedom were co-inhabitants of the Women's United Soccer Association's cellar last season.
Forward Tiffeny Milbrett scored two goals on just two shots and Norwegian forward Linda Ormen added a goal and two assists as the New York Power crushed the Freedom 4-1 last night before 8,206 at RFK Stadium.
Until last night, the Freedom had never allowed four goals in a game. This season is supposed to be a turnaround from last year's 6-12-3 campaign. If last night's game was any indication, it's going to be another long summer.
"Obviously, it's disappointing," Freedom captain Jen Grubb said. "It's not easy to accept a loss, but we can't allow it to be demoralizing when we have 20 games to play. If we start that now, it's going to be a long season."
Freedom midfielder Monica Gerardo opened the season in style, but it didn't last long. Gerardo, who scored just two goals last season, gave the Freedom a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute on a lovely, curling left-footer from 16 yards out.
Gerardo, a member of the Mexican national team since 1998, started the play when she sent a perfect 35-yard diagonal pass into space for left back Emmy Barr to run onto. Barr collected herself and crossed into the middle of the penalty area, where rookie forward Abby Wambach misplayed Barr's cross.
Wambach's attempted header went backward to Gerardo. Being the opportunist, Gerardo created a little space, lined up the ball and fired home a goal high into the left corner.
"I don't think it was a 4-1 game," Freedom coach Jim Gabarra said. "We certainly deserved better, but give New York credit they exposed us in the back and put their chances away."
Gabarra was forced to juggle his defensive back line for this game because of a medical emergency. Rookie defender Casey Zimny, who was the Freedom's second-round draft pick (10th overall) out of Connecticut, was penciled in to start the game but underwent emergency surgery Thursday to mend a ruptured ovarian cyst.
Zimny's absence forced Gabarra to drop Lindsay Stoecker as a center back from her new holding midfield position. Stoecker was the Freedom's starting central defender all last season.
For the first 32 minutes, Gabarra's back line of Carrie Moore, Stoecker, Grubb and Barr, did a credible job of controlling Milbrett and protecting goalkeeper Dawn Greathouse, the Freedom's third-string goalkeeper who was making her professional debut.
In the 33rd minute, Milbrett, WUSA's player of the year last season, tied the game 1-1 after Power forward Linda Ormen played a longball from the right to Milbrett streaking down the left flank. Milbrett perfectly controlled the ball with her left foot, ran 10 yards with the ball and from just outside the 6-yard box tucked the ball under Greathouse into the right corner.
"I had two chances, and I had two one-on-ones and I love those opportunities," Milbrett said.
The 5-foot-2 Milbrett, who is considered the greatest women's player on the planet, scored 16 goals for the Power last season and led the WUSA in goals. Milbrett accounted for 53 percent of the Power's goals last season.
In the second half, Milbrett struck again in the 54th minute to give the Power a 2-1 lead, and her second goal resembled the first.
Ormen played another long ball upfield to Milbrett, who had Grubb running with her down the right side. The speedy Milbrett ran directly at goal and waited for Greathouse to commit. When Greathouse took a step to protect the far post, Milbrett put it on the ground and under Greathouse again.
In the 64th minute, Ormen gave the Power a commanding 3-1 lead when she finished over Greathouse from 16 yards out on the right flank. Power midfielder Anita Rapp made it 4-1 in the 84th minute on an 18-yard blast from the left wing that went to the far post.

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