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BREVARD COUNTY COCOA EXPOS 0, MYSC LADY BLUES 1

BY MARK DeCOTIS
FLORIDA TODAY

COCOA, FL (07/28/08) -
The MYSC Lady Blues made the most of their chance, while the Brevard County Cocoa Expos couldn't cash in on theirs. Thus, their Women's Premier Soccer League season ended in the first round of the playoffs Monday night in a 1-0 defeat.

The Lady Blues (8-1), the Midwest Conference champions, advance to the league's championship final four this weekend in Sacramento, Calif., while the Expos, the Sunshine Conference champs, finished 11-1-1.

Forward Marie Gallagher beat Expos goalie Natalie Feller on a rush in the eighth minute, scoring on a high ball to put the Lady Blues on the board. The goal was only the fifth the Expos allowed all season.

The Expos had their chances in the tense, physical, back-and-forth match, the best early one being all-conference striker Stacey Jo Fletcher hitting the right post in the 18th minute.

The hosts pressed matters throughout the first half, but couldn't break down the Lady Blues' defense or beat acrobatic keeper Laurel Peak.

Things were pressed further in the second half with the Expos swarming like the omnipresent mosquitoes, but to no avail.

Fletcher was high with another shot as time wound down in the 87th minute, and the Expos never got another good chance.

"We knew coming in they had a really good defense," Expos coach James Kryger said. "It's unfortunate that we couldn't break them down.

"Credit to their team. They got the early goal. Normally, that's the kind of goal we get."

That the goal came in transition fit the pattern the more experienced Lady Blues, who allowed only four goals in nine games, played all season.

"A lot of our offensive opportunities come in transition, obviously," said MYSC coach Ben John.

"We are one of the oldest teams in the league. Some of it is the sensibility of trying to conserve our energy, finding those spurts when we can attack."

The Lady Blues also negated the Expos' advantage in speed.

"When you've got an older team, maybe not as fast," John said, "that low-pressure sort of strategy of staying back a little bit, take away the space from them, works well with a team like that."

It certainly worked Monday night.

"Their keeper was phenomenal," Kryger said. "With a little luck, we could have gotten a chance here and there. We've won games that way, now we're in the other situation. It's unfortunate that we can't go to California, but the girls had a great season. I've very happen with them."

Kryger, players honored. Brevard County Cocoa Expos head coach James Kryger was honored by the Women's Premier Soccer League, being selected as the Sunshine Conference coach of the year.

Also, four Expos players were selected to the Sunshine Conference first team. Honored were leading scorer Stacey Jo Fletcher, midfielder Jenn Montgomery, defender/midfielder Courtney Baines and defender Katie Tullis.

Miami's Betty Ann Casey (14 goals, six assists) was named the conference player of the year. Palm Beach United's Erin Switalski, who played every minute of every game this season, notching five shutouts, was selected as goalkeeper of the year. Final four opponents await. The other three teams in the WPSL final four are Arizona (Big Sky Conference), New England (East Conference) and Ajax America (Pacific Conference).

Contact DeCotis at 242-3786 or mdecotis@floridatoday.com