WPS: Sky Blue notches playoff victory

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BOYDS, Md. -- It may have taken four tries, but Sky Blue FC finally got their first win Saturday over the Washington Freedom.

And now, buoyed by their 2-1 win, Sky Blue will get to take on another team they're 0-3 against -- this time in Wednesday's Women's Professional Soccer Super Semifinal, where they take on Saint Louis.

Natasha Kai and Francielle tallied second-half goals to power Sky Blue.

At game time, the temperature was hovering around 92 degrees. Although neither team found the net in the first half, it didn't take long for things to heat up in the second half.

In the 55th minute, Kacey White found an open Kai, who had entered in the 54th minute, who put the visitors on the board.

"I knew I needed to come in and help the team out and give that extra fire, that spark," Kai said. "I don't know if Kacey was trying to shoot it or if it was more like a half cross. It had a weird spin to it and I knew Cat (Whitehill) had no idea I was behind her. I knew that if I beat her to the ball, it was an easy goal for me."

In the 78th minute, Washington Freedom forward Abby Wambach challenged Sky Blue goalkeeper Jenni Branam. The duo collided in the air, leaving a loose ball. Lisa De Vanna collected and finished, tying the match at 1-1.

In the 84th minute, Francielle, also a second-half substitute, beat one defender and fired a shot into the net for a 2-1 lead.

"After our goal, I really felt like the team settled in and even though they scored, I still felt pretty confident in the team," Sky Blue interim head coach Christie Rampone said. "A couple minutes after the goal, they had a little momentum but we got it back. They left Fran wide open and she hit a good shot and we finished out better than we normally do."

Wednesday's semifinal starts at 7 p.m. Saint Louis finished the regular season in second place.

The Super Semifinal winner will advance to face the regular-season champion Los Angeles Sol in the WPS Championship Sat., Aug. 22 at 4 p.m. ET.