The Boston Breakers are one of nine teams in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), joined by the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash (est. 2014) FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC (New Jersey), Western New York Flash, and the Washington Spirit. The league began play in April 2013, and the Breakers began the season with Head Coach Lisa Cole, who entered her second season as the Breakers head coach. On Aug. 2, 2013, the Breakers parted ways with Cole, and defender Cat Whitehill took over as player/coach.
In 2014, Boston's second season in the NWSL, the team finished with a 6-16-2 record. Heather O’Reilly led the team and finished seventh in the league for goals scored (nine) as well as fifth for shots of goal with 34. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made 106 saves, setting a Breakers franchise record for saves in a season. She also finished first in the league in that category and led the league in minutes played by a goalkeeper (2,115). Naeher finished the season with three shutouts. Naeher was named 2014 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year.
The Breakers finished their inaugural NWSL season in fifth place with an 8-8-6 record. Sydney Leroux led the team and finished tied for second in the NWSL with 11 goals. Lianne Sanderson was tops on the team with seven assists, which also ranked her third in the league.
In 2012, the Breakers played in the inaugural WPSL Elite League. They won the WPSL Elite regular season title with an 11-3 record under the direction of Coach Cole. The 11-3 record was the best win-loss record in Boston Breakers franchise history. They competed in WPSL Elite alongside ASA Chesapeake Charge, the Chicago Red Stars, FC Indiana, New England Mutiny, New York Fury, Philadelphia Fever, and the Western New York Flash. The Breakers were led by the dynamic offensive duo of second-year Breaker Katie Schoepfer (7G, 6A), and Australian international Kyah Simon, who finished second in WPSL Elite in goals scored (12).
Originally founded in 1999 as a charter member of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), the Boston Breakers were one of eight teams in the first U.S.-based women’s professional soccer league that played three seasons (2001-03) before the WUSA suspended operations in September 2003. League founding players Kristine Lilly, Kate Sobrero (Markgraf), and Tracy Ducar headlined the Breakers roster all three seasons, and combined with international stars that included Germany’s Maren Meinert and Bettina Wiegmann and Norway’s Dagny Mellgren and Ragnhild Gulbrandsen.
During their three-year tenure in the WUSA, the Breakers earned numerous accolades both on and off the field. They won the Community Service Award and notched league-leading attendance in 2002, and in 2003, Head Coach Pia Sundhage was awarded Coach of the Year while Maren Meinert received WUSA’s Most Valuable Player award. In their final season in the WUSA, the Breakers had their best record (10-4-7) and placed first in the regular season before falling to the Washington Freedom in the semifinals.
In April 2007, the Boston Breakers were re-established as one of seven franchises announced in the Women’s Soccer Initiative, which later became Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), where they played three seasons, beginning with the inaugural 2009 campaign. All three seasons, the Breakers were led by Head Coach Tony DiCicco, who guided the 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team FIFA Women’s World Cup champions and later won a U-20 Women’s World Cup title with the U.S.
In the 2009 season, DiCicco led a team that was comprised of U.S. Women’s National Team talent Kristine Lilly, Angela Hucles, Heather Mitts, and the No. 1 overall selection in the 2009 WPS Draft, Amy Rodriguez, as well as English international stars Kelly Smith, a three-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year nominee and Alex Scott, who teamed with Smith and won the quadruple with Arsenal Ladies in 2007.
The Breakers ended their 2009 season in fifth place with a 7-9-4 record, just missing a playoff berth by one point to eventual 2009 WPS Champions Sky Blue FC of New Jersey. The Breakers were especially solid on defense, taking third in the league for their average goals against per game. Breakers defender Amy LePeilbet was named the MedImmune Defender of the Year.
At the end of the 2009 season, General Manager Joe Cummings stepped down to pursue a career with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Andy Crossley moved from Director of Business Development to the vacant General Manager position.
Heading into the 2010 season, the Breakers picked up new talent, including three U.S. Women’s National Team players: Lauren Cheney, UCLA’s all-time leading scorer, Leslie Osborne, former FC Gold Pride playmaker and captain, and Stephanie Cox, a solid defender acquired in the La Sol dispersal draft.
The Breakers finished the 2010 season in second place, earning an automatic berth into the WPS Super Semifinal, where the team lost to the Philadelphia Independence in double overtime. The Breakers ended the regular season with a 10-8-6 record. For the second year in a row, Breakers defender Amy LePeilbet was named MedImmune Defender of the Year.
The Breakers made a number of offseason moves in preparation for the 2011 season, including the signings of U.S. Women’s National Team players Rachel Buehler and Kelley O’Hara from the 2010 WPS Champions FC Gold Pride. They also added depth in the midfield by taking Portland star and former U-20 World Cup champion Keelin Winters. Midseason acquisitions Meghan Klingenberg (University of North Carolina), who came to Boston via trade with magicJack, and free agent Aya Sameshima, who played every minute in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup for the champion Japanese team, added furth depth to the squad.
The Breakers reached the WPS playoffs for the second straight season, this time getting into the first round, where they lost to magicJack. The 2011 season was an historic year for the Breakers. Keeper Alyssa Naeher, midfielder Meghan Klingenberg, and forward Lauren Cheney all earned WPS Player of the Week honors. Cheney made history on Aug. 14, 2011, when she scored the fastest goal in WPS history. It came 14 seconds into Boston’s win over Sky Blue FC. Naeher set a franchise record for saves in a season (99). She’s also the all-time leader in career saves (168).
In 2011, the Boston Breakers were well-represented at the FIFA Women’s World Cup with eight members of the team playing for three separate countries - Lauren Cheney, Rachel Buehler, Stephanie Cox, Kelley O’Hara, Amy LePeilbet, all for U.S, Kelly Smith and Alex Scott for England, and Aya Sameshima for Japan.