ESPN ran a story about a recent match between BYU and New Mexico's women's teams which has become infamous for the elbows-to-the-ribs and ponytail-yank antics of New Mexico player Elizabeth Lambert. Fans of the sport are groaning, because this is what it takes to get a non-Olympics/World Cup/WPS Final into headlines - replays of bitchslap.
It seems to start with a fairly standard but decidedly unkosher elbow to the rib - as New Mexico's Lambert was sitting right behind a BYU player, the latter dug her elbow into Lambert's ribs. Lambert gave it right back, but less subtly and perhaps with more force. You could see that Lambert was furious. She proceeded to play violently through the rest of the match - incredibly yanking one player to the ground by her ponytail, and kicking a ball pointlessly into the face of an opponent, who was on the ground [This may not have been Lambert - see comments].
The obvious question is: where the hell was the referee? (Lambert picked up just one yellow card.) In that ESPN highlight video, there were two or three incidents that looked red card worthy - and they were on the ball, too, so the ref must have seen them. That she committed those offenses is bad, but that she was on the field for the duration of the match is worse because it suggests that the people controlling the match were not taking it seriously.
Anyway, it's a low point for women's soccer and I'm not going to link to the video here. If you want to find it, it's easy enough. Shame is, looking around for footage of great tackling in women's soccer, I struggled to find anything. A reminder of just how awful coverage of the women's game is. There are some fantastic defenders out there - in the WPS and internationally.
I did find this strange highlight video from a WPS match that celebrates some great keeping but looks to me like a chaotic game. Still, it's physical but clean play. But before you watch that, enjoy this photo montage celebrating the world's #1 badass, Nadine Angerer:
I also recommend this lovely montage celebrating "tough female footballers." The gal who put this together didn't have much to work with - not because there aren't great moments out there - but those moments are not recorded, broadcast, and rebroadcast. I am not sure all of the video clips are worthy of celebration, but some are and she's put in some fantastic photos and scored it all to Christina Aguilera, for good measure. Actually - I take back my equivocation: it's the best highlight reel of women's soccer I've ever seen - if one side seems weak, it's because the other is that much stronger (and yes, I'm quoting Aguilera here).