Tasha Kai raised both arms, pretended to be an airplane, flew to a sideline at sunny PPL Park, and hugged teammates on Saturday afternoon.
Kai, the leading scorer for the Independence, had just helped her team beat magicJack, 2-0, in the Women's Professional Soccer super semifinal in front of the largest home crowd of the season, and the tattooed forward from Hawaii wanted to share the joy.
"It was just a big group hug," said Kai, who scored the critical first goal just after intermission as most of the 5,410 onlookers cheered wildly. "Nothing is better than celebrating with your whole team."
The Independence (12-4-3) are scheduled to play for the WPS championship against the Western New York Flash (13-2-3) on Saturday at Sahlen Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.
Kai, the team's leading scorer with 10 goals and an assist, scored in the 46th minute when she kicked a ball that curved into the left side of the net, past keeper Jillian Lloyd, for a 1-0 lead.
"I bent it like Kai," Kai said, alluding to the line about superstar David Beckham. "All season long we practiced bending it to the near post. . . . I set up my left foot and sent it to the far post.
"This [victory] is sweet. We have a whole week to recover and take on a tough New York team."
Indy's defense, led by center backs Kia McNeill and Nikki Krzysik, clogged the middle of the field and blocked several shots before they got to keeper Nicole Barnhart, who made 10 saves. Some were spectacular, especially those that she tipped over the crossbar.
Amy Rodriguez gave the Indepence breathing room when she scored the second goal in the 81st minute. The fleet-footed forward took a pass from forward Danesha Adams and lifted the ball from about 25 yards out. It sailed over the head of Lloyd and into the net for a 2-0 lead that held.
"The ball from Danesha was so great - she is such a great final passer. I chipped it to the left post," Rodriguez said. "It was slow motion for me. On a chipped ball you have to wait and see.
"Our goal was to make it to the championship. Now we're on the doorstep. We're coming in to the New York Flash's home, and we're really excited to play them."
The Independence and magicJack had split wins in four previous meetings this season. The shutout was Barnhart's fourth of the season.
Barnhart gave kudos to McNeill for helping to shut down Abby Wambach, who is always a threat near the box.
"We knew we were going to have our hands full today with Abby and Christen Press up top, and we stuck to the game plan, kept them in front of us for the most part, and denied them from the flanks," McNeill said.