The Breakers and Washington Spirit met for the third time this season, and for the first time in three meetings, a team came out victorious. Powered by three assists from Lianne Sanderson and a goal each from Heather O’Reilly, Katie Schoepfer, and Kyah Simon, the Breakers defeated the Spirit, 3-0, Saturday night at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville.
After the two teams played to 1-1 draws in both Boston and at Washington, the Breakers (3-1-2) came out looking to break that stalemate and get back on track after losing their first game of the season last weekend, 2-0, to FC Kansas City. Not only did the Breakers bounce back into the win column and move into second place in the National Women’s Soccer League table, they held Washington (1-4-3) without a shot on goal.
Lianne Sanderson had three assists in Saturday's 3-0 win (Photo by Mike Gridley)
"Obviously after last week’s defeat, we wanted to get the win. You’re going to lose a game during the season, it’s just important how you bounce back, and I think we bounced back great tonight," Sanderson said. "I was happy to get three assists, but at the same time, it was an all-around great team performance. I thought our defense was fantastic tonight. We looked really confident. We worked hard in training this week on confidence and touches on the ball, being comfortable on the ball, and not giving away possession. I think the girls did really great, especially the defense."
In front of 1,246 fans on a cold and rainy night in Somerville, the Breakers and Spirit had a battle of the midfield in the early going and consequently, neither side found much space to push forward in the final third. Simon nearly opened the scoring in the 29th minute with a well-driven shot on goal, but Washington keeper Chantel Jones made a diving stop.
The Breakers got on the score sheet in the 38th minute, and it began with Simon’s relentless pursuit in the midfield to win the ball back. Once she got it at her feet, Simon crossed it Sanderson, who perfectly flicked it over the top to O’Reilly, who then slotted it past Jones for the 1-0 lead. It was O’Reilly’s third goal of the season.
"She’s such an incredible number 10 for us. She’s very savvy on the ball, but her runs forward are just really threatening," O’Reilly said of Sanderson. "She hasn’t scored yet this season, but I think everybody has seen how dangerous she is, and she’s setting everyone up with incredible goals. She’s smart. She knows the game. You can tell she’s been around high-level soccer her whole life."
The scoreline stood that way until the 53rd minute. This time it was Schoepfer who was on the receiving end of a Sanderson assist. Sanderson went deep into the far corner before crossing it into the box. That’s where Schoepfer met the ball and one-timed it past Jones to put Boston ahead, 2-0, and give Schoepfer her second goal of the season.
After chipping a shot wide early in the game, hitting the post in the 45th minute, and heading a ball into the side netting halfway through the second half, Simon was not to be denied in the 66th minute. She took a pass from Sanderson and powered it past Jones to five the Breakers a 3-0 lead. It was Simon’s first goal of the season. The Breakers nearly made it a 4-0 game in the 79th minute, but Jones made a diving stop on a Schoepfer penalty kick, which was awarded after a Washington hand ball in the box.
Kyah Simon tracks down a ball in Saturday's win. Simon scored her first goal of the season (Photo by Mike Gridley)
With her three assists on the night, Sanderson now leads the NWSL with six assists and became the first player to register three assists in a NWSL match.
"I think Lianne has been our best performer, consistently," Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole said. "All the work she does on the ball and all the work she does off the ball. I’m just really proud of what she’s added to our team and how she’s added to her game. She’s been a really special (player for us)."
"I thought our midfield carried our team," added Cole. "Mariah (Nogueira), Joanna Lohman, and Lianne just gave Washington no time to be successful on the ball. When they made mistakes, they came back and won it quickly. I thought it was a good team performance."
Cecilia Santiago saw five shots head in her vicinity, none of which landed on goal. With the clean sheet, the Breakers 18-year-old goalie becomes the youngest keeper to earn a shutout in the history of professional women’s soccer leagues in the U.S.
"The age doesn’t matter; it’s the playing level," Santiago said. "I’m just getting my feet wet, and I’m looking forward to continuing to improve. I’m happy about how the team played and happy that we got the result we wanted."
The Breakers travel to New Jersey on Saturday, June 1 to take on first-place Sky Blue FC before returning home Wednesday, June 5, to face the Western New York Flash. You can purchase tickets to all home games at www.breakerstickets.com.
Rhian Wilkinson fends off Stephanie Ochs in Saturday's win (Photo By Mike Gridley)
Shots: Boston 16, Washington 5
Shots on goal: Boston 8, Washington 0
Saves: Washington: Chantel Jones (5); Boston: Cecilia Santiago (0)
Corners: Boston 4, Washington 3
Offsides: Boston 6, Washington 4
Cautions: Boston: none; Washington: none
Fouls: Washington 6; Boston 5
BOS: Heather O’Reilly (Lianne Sanderson) 38’
BOS: Katie Schoepfer (Sanderson) 53’
BOS: Kyah Simon (Sanderson) 66’
Washington: Chantel Jones, Robyn Gayle, Ali Krieger, Domenica Hodak (Kika Toulouse 74’), Lori Lindsey, Diana Matheson, Julia Roberts, Tori Huster, Jasmyne Spencer, Tiffany McCarty, Stephanie Ochs (Colleen Williams 80’)
Subs not used: Ashlyn Harris, Holly King, Candace Chapman, Ingrid Wells
Boston: Cecilia Santiago, Julie King, Cat Whitehill, Kia McNeill, Rhian Wilkinson, Mariah Noguiera, Joanna Lohman, Lianne Sanderson, Heather O’Reilly (Adriana Leon 70’), Katie Schoepfer (Lisa-Marie Woods 80’, Kyah Simon (Kate Howarth 86’)
Subs not used: Colleen Boyd, Sydney Leroux, Melinda Mercado