ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Beat were on the verge of another playoff loss. Conny Pohlers and Charmaine Hooper made sure that did not happen.
Pohlers scored in stoppage time to force overtime, and Hooper
scored in the fourth minute of the extra period to send the Atlanta
Beat to their second Founders Cup in three years with a 2-1 win
over San Diego on Sunday.
Pohlers beat Jenni Branam to a ball at the top of the goalie box
and tapped it in to send the match into overtime.
"I just told myself, 'Conny, this is your ball,''' Pohlers
said. "Then the ball hit the ground and I got to it.''
With the game tied, Atlanta coach Tom Stone felt the momentum
shift to his team.
"We'd just gutted San Diego with Conny's goal,'' Stone said.
"To have to come back out there for overtime after something like
that is very difficult.''
Hooper took a pass from Leslie Gaston and outran Joy Fawcett,
who injured her ankle on the play in which Pohlers scored. She then
beat Branam with a shot to the left side of the goal.
"I told myself I wouldn't shoot from too far out,'' Hooper
said. "Joy's very fast and a smart defender. When I beat her to
the ball, I was surprised I was so free.''
The second-seeded Beat will play fourth-seeded Washington in the
Founders Cup III on Aug. 24. The Beat lost in the 2001 Founders Cup
and in the 2002 semifinals.
Atlanta won two and tied one in the season series against the
Atlanta missed a chance at the early advantage when Hooper
missed outside the left post in the third minute after collecting
an entry pass from Maribel Dominguez.
San Diego appeared headed for the championship game in its own
stadium for most of the afternoon, taking the lead on a goal by Aly
Wagner in the 38th minute.
Wagner scored when she fielded a ball that bounded away from
Julie Fleeting and Nancy Augustyniak from a crossing pass by Kerry
Connors. Wagner beat Briana Scurry with a clean shot to the right
side of the goal.
"This is a tough one because you have yourself in a position to
play at home,'' Julie Foudy said. "We were tasting it right up
until that last minute.''
Dominguez had a chance to tie it in the 58th minute, but her
shot was cleared by Fawcett.