Bay Area CyberRays Win Inaugural WUSA Championship

Aug. 25, 2001

FOXBORO, Mass - Goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene stopped Sun Wen in the first round, then got a boost when Charmaine Hooper left-footed hers wide Saturday as the Bay Area CyberRays won the WUSA title with a 4-2 shootout victory over the Atlanta Beat.

Former University of Washington standout Theresa Wagner is a member of the champion CyberRays. The product of Seattle's Lakeside High School was a ninth-round selection in December's first WUSA Draft.

Wagner, who played seven games for Bay Area and started twice, did not participate in the championship game. She did play in the inaugural WUSA game which Bay Area lost 1-0 at Washington on April 14.

Wagner completed her four-year Husky career last fall as the owner of several school records. She set new Washington standards for assists in a game (4), season (12) and career (26) along with finishing as the school's all-time leader with 80 total points.

The WUSA championship game was tied 3-3 at the end of regulation and stayed that way through 15 minutes of overtime.

Brandi Chastain, who memorably whipped off her shirt after scoring the winning goal in the World Cup shootout, was on deck for the CyberRays when Julie Murray clinched it. Murray, who also had a goal in regulation, was named the Founders Cup MVP.

'I'm very happy it didn't make it that far,' Chastain said. Asked if she had any special way of celebrating planned, she said, 'No. Nothing.'

Atlanta took a 3-2 lead with six minutes left when Sun Wen, who entered the game as a late substitute because of an ankle injury, beat Beene from close range. The CyberRays answered just two minutes later when Tisha Venturini made a nice move of her own to tie the game.

Sun, leading off the first of five rounds of penalty kicks, kicked the ball to Beene's left, where the WUSA goalkeeper of the year was easily able to corral it and put Atlanta in an early hole. When Hooper missed two rounds later, it put the Beat down two goals.

Venturini, Carey Dorn, Katia and then Murray all beat Briana Scurry to give Bay Area the title.

'It's an incredible way to win,' said Scurry, who's save against Liu Ying in the World Cup set up Chastain's game-winner. 'But it's also an incredible way to lose.'

The game established somewhat of a tradition for new soccer leagues: Major League Soccer also held its first title game at Foxboro Stadium, a rain-soaked overtime affair in front of 35,000 singing fans.

The women's championship, played under puffy clouds and sunshine, drew just 21,078 to a stadium that holds 58,000 for NFL games. Judging from the high-pitched cheers coming from the stands, many of them were the young girls who have formed the sport's fan base since the U.S. team won the World Cup.

Chastain said the thrill of establishing a league and winning its first title surpassed even the World Cup.

'We started out with nothing and we did something great,' Chastain said. '... This is the most special moment in soccer history for us.'

There was plenty of action in the first half before the teams settled into a more conservative style for most of the second.

The CyberRays took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute when Katia headed the ball across the goal box and Dayna Smith failed to clear it, instead knocking it out to Kelly Lindsey at the left corner of the box. Lindsey powered a shot that deflected off Chastain into the far side of the net.

Atlanta tied it in the 11th minute when Homare Sawa connected with Nancy Augustyniak and she found Kylie Bivens unmarked about 15 yards out. The Beat went ahead 2-1 in the 14th minute when Cindy Parlow led Hooper near midfield and she bumped the ball once with her chest to elude the defense and then broke in on Beene all alone.

Scurry made a nice save in the 30th minute on Lindsey's shot from close range, getting a hand on it to knock it off the crossbar. But the Rays tied it in the 43rd minute when Murray broke away from the defense, slid it past Scurry from right to left and then scored with her left foot.

It was still 2-2 until Sun scored what looked to be the game-winner in the 84th minute, dribbling past the defense and beating Beene. But just two minutes later, Katia headed one into the box to Venturini, who eluded two defenders before scoring.

Nikki Serlenga hit the post on a free kick in the fourth minute of injury time, allowing the game to go into overtime.

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