Week 16 of Women's Professional Soccer featured a rare Los Angeles loss. It didn't hurt the Sol (11-2-4, 37 points), who still have a 14-point lead in the standings. St. Louis Athletica (7-5-2, 23 points) helped its own cause, beating L.A. to secure second place.
Sky Blue FC (5-6-3, 18 points) knocked off Boston 2-1 Sunday and to move into a third-place tie with its East Coast rival Breakers (5-6-3, 18 points). Chicago (4-6-5, 17 points) also earned a win Sunday to move into fifth place. The Washington Freedom (4-6-4, 16 points) did not play and dropped to sixth. FC Gold Pride (3-8-3, 12 points) still sits at the bottom.
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Cristiane had two firsts for the Red Stars Sunday, tallying the first penalty kick and first multi-goal game in club history. She then tallied the first hat trick in WPS history.
"I don't think we played our best game tonight," Red Stars head coach Emma Hayes said. "But we showed what we can do when our players play their best. Cristiane had world class finishes for us tonight."
In the 31st minute, Gold Pride defender Marisa Abegg took down Chicago striker Cristiane in the box. Without hesitation, the referee awarded Chicago a penalty kick. Crisitane easily buried the shot over a diving Nicole Barnhart and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Chicago's Lindsay Tarpley challenged for the ball in the 44th minute. A high kick left FC Gold Pride's Kristen Graczyk on the field. Graczyk was immediately taken off the field and attended to for a head injury and leaving FC Gold Pride down a player.
Once play resumed, Chicago immediately took advantage. Megan Rapinoe forwarded the ball to Cristiane, who streaked upfield. The Brazilian international beat the defense, dodged Barnhart and shot. Two defenders attempted to clear the ball, but it went into the net for a 2-0 Red Stars lead.
Gold Pride's Tiffany Milbrett blasted a penalty kick into the net in the 64th minute. On the counterattack, Tarpley forwarded the ball to Cristiane, who made a run and launched a long ball into the net.
CARSON, Calif. -- St. Louis got an early goal and a near flawless defensive performance to hand Los Angeles just its second loss Wednesday.
St. Louis wasted little time, scoring in the 11th minute. Athletica forward Eniola Aluko passed the ball to midfielder Amanda Cinalli, whosent the ball into the net, beating Karina LeBlanc for just the second time all season.
Los Angeles nearly struck in the beginning of the second half when Aly Wagner and Aya Miyama both sent shots toward goal in the first five minutes. St. Louis goalkeeper Hope Solo had four saves and collected her sixth shutout of the season.
With six games left on the season, St. Louis has plenty of time to keep pushing. Athletica has a 10-day hiatus before playing at the Washington Freedom. The Sol return to the pitch July 23 and will play their last three matches of the season on the road.
"The loss today is a small bump in our successful season," Sol coach Abner Rogers said. "It's a true mark of a champion to bounce back after a loss."
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Two first-half goals by Sky Blue FC proved to be too much for Boston Sunday evening.
Natasha Kai got the visitors on board in the 24th minute. Collette McCallum served the ball into the box. Kai headed it past Breakers goalkeeper Allison Lipsher for the 1-0 lead.
Thirteen minutes later, Sky Blue stuck again. Heather O'Reilly passed to Rosana, who was about eight yards out. The Brazilian buried the shot into the left side of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Boston put up a fight until the bitter end. In the third minute of second-half injury time, Angela Hucles found an open Jenny Nobis, whochested the ball down and blasted it toward goal, cutting the lead in half.
"You can't argue [our team's] work in the second half. They worked incredibly hard," said Breakers head coach Tony DiCicco. "Our final pass quality and finishing quality have not been good enough."