- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2003

The Washington Freedom lost the game, first place, two starters and their composure.

Not a good day all around.

Maren Meinert scored two first-half goals to lead the Boston Breakers to a 3-1 victory over the Freedom before 6,801 yesterday at RFK Stadium.

With the win, the Breakers (5-3-2) catapult over the Freedom (5-2-1) into sole possession of first place in the Women’s United Soccer Association standings. It marks the first time all season the Freedom have not had at least a share of first place.

Things really got out of hand in the second half. Three players were ejected — a league record — including two Freedom players. No team has ever had two players ejected in the same match.

Defender Skylar Little and forward Abby Wambach were ejected for violent conduct and must sit out of Wednesday’s game at the Carolina Courage (2-5-1).

Freedom goalkeeper Siri Mullinix charged after referee Tony Russo after the game and had to be restrained by Mia Hamm. Freedom coach Jim Gabarra grabbed recently arrived defender Sandra Minnert by the arm and yelled at Russo to look at her eye.

Minnert, who made her Freedom debut yesterday, was elbowed in the left eye by Breakers forward Dagny Mellgren. No foul was called, but Minnert suffered a cut above her eye that needed stitches.

“If he didn’t see it then, he needed to see what happened,” Gabarra said. “I think an elbow to the head is a red card. I think he had us a little confused.”

Things started to get out of hand in the 74th minute when Little and Breakers midfielder Angela Hucles got into an ugly altercation in front of the Breakers bench. Little grabbed Hucles from behind along the sideline. As the two were entangled, Hucles somehow managed to pick up Little and body-slammed the 5-foot-3 defender. Russo ejected Hucles and Little.

Russo ejected Wambach during injury time after she steamrolled Breakers defender Heather Aldama.

“I fouled her, it was a clear foul, but in my opinion I don’t think I deserved to get a red card,” Wambach said. “Referees have control of the game, some lose it, some don’t. I was trying to prevent her from serving the ball. I wasn’t intentionally going after her.”

Said Aldama, “She definitely hit me after the play, I didn’t see her coming.”

Russo did not issue a yellow card caution in this match.

However, Russo didn’t lose the game for the Freedom, Meinert won it for the Breakers. Her fourth career multi-goal game gave her a league-leading eight goals. The German wasted no time establishing herself yesterday.

Meinert struck first in the sixth minute. Breakers midfielder Stephanie Mugneret-Beghe intercepted a clear on the right flank and sent a cross into the box. Mellgren went up for a decoy header and the ball bounced just as Meinert slid into it with her right foot from inside the 6-yard box to give the Breakers a 1-0 lead.

Meinert made it 2-0 in the 29th minute when she and Mullinix arrived at the ball at the same time just outside the 6-yard box. The ball looked to be in Mullinix’s hands, but Meinert dislodged it with her right foot. Mullinix fell down and Meinert placed the ball inside the right post.

The Freedom’s lone goal came in the 49th minute when midfielder Steffi Jones, who had perhaps her best game in a Freedom uniform, scored her first WUSA goal when she headed in a Hamm corner kick from the top of the 6-yard box.

Breakers reserve midfielder Mary-Frances Monroe, who was appearing in just her second game with the Breakers, put the match out of reach with a goal in the 82nd minute.

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