By Chris Brookes
(May 31, 2014) - Few would have predicted a result quite as emphatic as the 4-1 win handed out by the Boston Breakers to reigning National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champions Portland Thorns FC on Wednesday. The home win halted an unwelcome run of defeats at four games and lifted the Breakers off the foot of the league table. It also made many sit up and take notice of three-goal match-winner Jazmine Reeves, and the rookie forward has found her introduction to the limelight extremely surreal.
Back in January, the 2014 NWSL College Draft took place in Philadelphia, and Reeves was selected by the Breakers in the third round as the 21st pick overall. Scoring 11 goals in her senior year as a Virginia Tech Hokie, her strength, pace, and attitude were all commended by Breakers Head Coach Tom Durkin when she signed.
She has had to bide her time for an opportunity in the NWSL this season, but as Durkin made seven changes to his team for Wednesday’s game, the 22-year-old was one of those to get the call. Her night began in terrific fashion as she found Nkem Ezurike at the far post to score her first professional goal and give the Breakers the lead after just two minutes against Portland.
From there, the Dover, Del. native took center stage in an outstanding team display. On 25 minutes, Boston went 2-0 ahead as Reeves reacted quickest to put Courtney Jones’ parried shot beyond Nadine Angerer. A red card for Thorns defender Kat Tarr then preceded Reeves' second of the match – an assured, lifted finish from a one-on-one with Angerer after a smart pass from Jones.
Jazmine Reeves celebrates her first professional goal (Photo By Mike Gridley)
Despite the composure she showed on that strike, Reeves is not always so ice-cold on the inside in those situations. She highlighted that as an area to work on when recalling the goal that put the Breakers 3-0 up before halftime.
“It's hard to remember exactly, but if I had to guess, I was probably panicking like I do on most breakaway opportunities,” she said. “However, I do remember looking up to see her pretty far off her line, so I tried to take advantage of that by chipping it over her.”
The best was still to come though and just before the hour, Reeves showed that she certainly has the technical ability to match her athleticism. One of the evening’s other impressive performers, midfielder Maddy Evans, produced a fine pass out to Reeves on the right, and she headed into the box. Checking back onto her left, she whipped a magnificent effort beyond the reach of Germany captain Angerer into the far corner.
Portland’s Christine Sinclair restored some pride for the Thorns by bringing it back to 4-1 but there was no denying the Breakers on this occasion. The win meant Boston improved to 2-6-0 and the praise has been flooding in for Jazmine via social media (@jdreeves5). Although she undoubtedly caught the eye at times in her college career, this was a different level entirely for her.
“The support after the game was amazing," Reeves said. "I have never really experienced so many people reaching out all at once like that, but it was awesome to see how many people are cheering us on.”
The first player to ever be drafted into the NWSL from Virginia Tech, Reeves also takes the honor of the league season’s first hat-trick. It was the first time the Thorns have conceded four goals in franchise history and no team has previously scored more than once past Nadine Angerer since she joined the 2013 champions.
Reeves describes her feelings on hitting three past the two-time World Cup winner, five-time European Championship winner and current FIFA Ballon d’Or holder.
“I definitely do not think it has sunk in yet. I honestly don't know if it ever will," she said. “For me, personally, the concept of doing something like that seems unimaginable. I did not speak to Angerer after the game, but we shook hands.”
The win was celebrated by players, staff, and supporters alike, and with six defeats in the opening seven games, it was much needed. Reeves had been limited to just one start and two substitute appearances before Wednesday, but she is now leading scorer for the Breakers.
The victory over Paul Riley’s Thorns gives reason to believe that the season can still herald a positive outcome. Reeves shares how she has been feeling this season waiting in the wings for her chance while the results were going against the team.
“Being in that position, both as an individual and as a team, has been very difficult," she said. "I try to always have the mindset that hard work pays off. I try to remember that if I do my best all the time, I will earn my chance. The same for the team, if we continue to put the work in, which we have, good things will happen for us.”
From Reeves' attacking threat, to Alyssa Naeher and her defense standing firm, and the likes of Bianca D’Agostino’s unwavering work in the midfield, the Portland performance gives a great base for Boston ahead of the home game with the Washington Spirit this Sunday. While building on an outstanding personal display on the field is Reeves' next objective, she continues to enjoy Boston in her free time.
Born in San Bernardino, Calif. and raised in Dover, Del., Reeves majored in Business Management at Virginia Tech. A NSCAA All-American in 2013, she has been finding one way in particular to fill the time previously taken up by her studies.
“Luckily, I have a great host family who have helped me familiarize myself with Boston since I have been here," she said. "I really enjoy spending time with them away from the field.
“Up until recently, I have been super busy with school work. Now that I have graduated, I have decided to take up a new hobby - cooking. I am an awful cook, so hopefully after a few classes, I can at least say I know how to cook at least one dish.”
Come out to see Jazmine and the rest of the Breakers as we take on Washington Spirit at Harvard Stadium this Sunday. You can purchase tickets for the game from www.breakerstickets.com or by calling 617-945-1704.