Fury a win from W-League glory

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

The Ottawa Fury is right where it wants to be.

Only one game left to go to claim the biggest prize of all.

With Amy Vermeulen and Leah Robinson supplying the offence, the Fury edged the Charlotte Lady Eagles 2-1 last night in the first of two W-League championship semi-finals at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, B.C.

Up next for the Fury: Tomorrow's W-League final against either the host Vancouver Whitecaps or Seattle Sounders Saints, who played the late semi-final last night.

Kickoff time tomorrow is 8 p.m.

For the Fury, it's one step to go to complete its season-long quest. Ottawa knows the story well: Fourth, third and second at the last three W-League Final Fours. Now it's 90 minutes to finish that sequence the right way.

Last year, the Fury was blanked by New Jersey 3-0 in the championship game.

"We're back in the final, and it feels better than ever," said Robinson, 24, of Lower Sackville, N.S. "This is what we've been waiting for (all season)."

Not that Ottawa did any looking past the Lady Eagles last night. The Central Conference champions didn't make it easy on the Fury, even after Vermeulen's seventh goal in four playoff games made it 1-0 in the sixth minute.

"We weren't even thinking about (the final)," said Robinson. "We've been here before and we knew we had to win to get to the final. We were only thinking about Charlotte."

BENDS IT LIKE BECKHAM

Vermeulen was a threat every time she touched the ball and could have had more. But the Fury got the breathing room it needed in the 80th minute. A clever through ball by Kelly Parker sent Rhian Wilkinson in alone, but she was upended by charging Charlotte keeper Lindsey Dreason just outside the penalty area -- an aggressive move the Fury thought was worthy of a red card.

Only a yellow was produced, but Robinson made the argument moot when she made like David Beckham and bent a free kick into the lower left corner of the net, past a diving Dreason.

"I've been practising those all year," said Robinson, the veteran midfielder. "I was pretty much praying that this would be the one that would go in."

It ended up being the winner as W-League all-star Ashley Swinehart punched a shot past Fury 'keeper Leisha Alcia in the final seconds of stoppage time. Swinehart pounced on the rebound after a Lydia Vandenbergh shot rang off the crossbar.

"That was a good side we were playing," said Fury owner John Pugh. "They gave us a good bit of trouble, more in the first half than the second."

Now the focus can shift to the match the Fury has been waiting four years to win.


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