- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2003

The Washington Freedom figured out a red-hot Atlanta Beat team and walked off the RFK Stadium field yesterday still unbeaten, still in first place and off to the best start in franchise history.
In a battle of the league's last unbeatens, the Freedom and the Beat went toe-to-toe for 90 minutes and settled for a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the second game of a women's soccer doubleheader before 6,222. In the first game, the United States pummeled Canada 6-1 in an exhibition.
And most impressive about the Freedom's draw was they played exceptionally well without the services, for the most part, of the team's top two goal scorers.
Freedom star Mia Hamm, who is the club's leading scorer with three goals and two assists, played in both games, but just the last 29 minutes for the Freedom (3-0-1). Freedom forward Jacqui Little, who has two goals and two assists on the season, did not play because of a severely sprained ankle suffered this week during training. Rookie Laura Schott made her first career start for Little.
Kelly Golebiowksi, the Freedom's Australian midfielder, scored the team's only goal in the 67th minute that tied the game 1-1. Only seconds earlier, the Beat (2-0-1) had taken a 1-0 lead on Maribel Dominguez's league-leading fifth goal of the season.
"I don't think Atlanta or the Freedom backed down in any way and I thought it was a just result," Freedom coach Jim Gabarra said. "I thought the intensity level was very high for an early season game."
Without their main weapons, the Freedom's defense rose to the occasion and shut down a Beat attack that had scored 11 goals in its first two games. Freedom goalkeeper Siri Mullinix saved a penalty kick in the 15th minute that set the tone for the team's defense.
Mullinix, who was on the U.S. national team's roster for the first game but did not play, fouled Dominguez in what looked to be a questionable call as Mullinix was grabbing the ball and not the Mexican goal scorer inside the 6-yard box.
As soon as Dominguez went down, referee Erich Simmons didn't hesitate and pointed to the penalty spot. Beat midfielder Nikki Serlenga took the penalty kick and Mullinix instinctively reacted to her right, the same direction Serlenga went with her kick. Mullinix punched the ball away and the Freedom dodged an early deficit.
"I tried to take my time and put the pressure on the kicker," Mullinix said. "I went back and forth a couple of times and she was doing the same thing so I was just trying to draw it [the kick] out a little longer. I didn't guess one way or the other. I got set and reacted. Luckily, I reacted quick enough and to the right side."
Golebiowski became the first player this season to score a goal on the Beat. Hamm, who played well in her limited time despite playing 63 minutes in the first game, sent a beautiful cross into the middle of the box to set up the goal.
Serlenga headed Hamm's cross out of the middle of the box, but didn't clear it out far enough. Serlenga's header fell at the feet of Golebiowski, who drove the ball out of midair from 15 yards on the left wing with a full left-footed volley that one-hopped at the goal line and skipped inside the far right post.
"I saw the cross coming in, I didn't really think it was going to come as far as it did to me, but when the ball sits that nicely, I'm going to hit it nine times out of 10," Golebiowski said.
After a scoreless first half, the Beat struck first in the 67th minute on Dominguez's goal. Beat midfielder Abby Crumpton played a ball to Dominguez, the WUSA player of the week, inside the box on the right side. Dominguez one-touched the ball further out on the right and then lifted a shot over Mullinix to the left corner from 15 yards out that gave the Beat a 1-0 lead.
Freedom midfielder Monica Gerardo played 12 minutes yesterday in her final game as a professional. Gerardo announced her retirement last week to become an assistant coach on the University of Pittsburgh's women's soccer team. Before the game, Gerardo was honored with a framed replica jersey. … The Freedom have a bye this week and will scrimmage the W-League's Hampton Roads Piranhas on Friday in Virginia Beach, Va.



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