At this stage in the game, every point counts. More importantly, a victory that yields three points matters even more as the four playoff-bound teams battle it out to finish at the top of the table with just a week left in the regular season. The Breakers can secure three points with a win Saturday at home against the Philadelphia Fever at 6 p.m. at Dilboy Stadium and move to 30 points on the season, good enough to secure at least a first-place tie by the end of the weekend.
The Breakers (9-3-0) look to bounce back after a tough, 2-1 loss last Saturday to the New England Mutiny on the road. The Breakers, coming off less than one day’s rest, having beat the Charge less than 23 hours prior, traveled to East Longmeadow High School to take on the fifth-place Mutiny. After taking a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute on a Kyah Simon goal, her league-leading 12th of the season, the Breakers surrendered two goals in stoppage time.
"Any time you take a loss, you are excited to get back on the field and get a positive result," Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole said. "We felt that our last performance was a little bit unlucky, a little bit fatigue, and a result of us not putting the game away early, so all of those things we have focused on this week - number one, accepting that if we were better early the last 10 minutes doesn’t matter. So the Fever are the perfect matchup for us this week. They held us to a 1-0 win at their house, and it took us a while to score."
The key for the Breakers is to put away their chances early and often. One of the top playmakers in the league this year - forward Katie Schoepfer - looks to lead the charge. Schoepfer has put up staggering numbers this season, scoring a post-collegiate career-high 6 goals to go along with 5 assists. Her 17 points ranks the second-year Breaker third in WPSL Elite. Rookie Melissa Henderson will more than likely team up with Schoepfer to start the match, could form a duo that may prove too much to handle for the Fever, who enter the match with a 1-8-2 record.
"We have to work on being good early, scoring early, and mixing up our play in the final third," Cole said. "This is a game that will be important for us as we need the result. I need to figure out who are the players we can use in the playoffs, and I hope that we have a little something to prove throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs."
Rookie Courtney Jones, who has seen significant time as an outside back this season, and has 1 goal and a team-high and league-best 6 assists, is expected to start as an outside midfielder. Jones is extremely dangerous on the attack, and she proved that at the University of North Carolina, where she scored 36 goals and had 32 assists as a forward during her career. She also set up Simon’s game-winning goal June 30 in a 1-0 win against Chicago.
Saturday is the seventh and final home game of the 2012 season for the Breakers, who have sold out the previous six home games and could pass the 15,000 attendance mark for the season. Schoepfer said the amount of support from Breakers fans this season has been amazing.
"I’ve really never experienced anything like that. It’s really inspiring to see fans get excited about soccer, and it gives us a lot of energy and boosts us out there, and it shows with our home record," Schoepfer said. "I’ve never seen such dedicated fans for women’s soccer and really for any sport. It really hypes us up and gets us going. There’s no better adrenaline rush when you get close to goal and you hear the crowd start going. It’s really exciting."
Another sold-out crowd at Dilboy Stadium (Photo by Meg Linehan)
Saturday is also PUMA Project Pink Night, where fans have the chance to bid on all of the players’ jerseys during a silent auction at the stadium. For more on Project Pink Night, check out this story on our site, where you’ll get all the information you need about the initiative and the ways that you can support the fight against breast cancer both at Dilboy and on Twitter.
Check out the Game Notes, which include Boston’s projected starting lineup and both team’s rosters.