The 2013 National Women’s Soccer League’s debut season is set to begin in less than a month, and over the weekend, the Breakers returned to the field to open up preseason training. After two days of fitness testing in the morning and training in the afternoon, the team began daily training sessions and some two-a-days to prepare for the April 14 home opener against the Washington Spirit.
"It feels awesome to be back. It’s been a long offseason, considering our season last year ended at the end of July, so I’m glad to be back on the pitch for sure, and it’s been fun," second-year defender Cat Whitehill said. "We did the fitness testing, and glad that’s over with. Now we can just play with the ball. So far it’s been good. There are a lot of new faces, a lot of us learning each other’s names. But it’s fun. Everybody’s getting a good sense that this league is going to be a great league and highly competitive."
Cat Whitehill at Sunday’s training (Photo By Mike Gridley)
Whitehill and some two dozen other players trained at Harvard University’s Cumnock Field, one of the Breakers training fields dating back to the 2009 season. Whitehill was joined by a host of Breakers veterans, including forward Katie Schoepfer, back for her third season in Boston, midfielder Bianca D’Agostino, and defender Julie King. Other returning players - Australian striker Kyah Simon and midfielder Heather O’Reilly - are set to join the team this week. O'Reilly and her U.S. Women's National Team teammate Sydney Leroux, as well as Canadians Rhian Wilkinson and Adriana Leon are expected to train with the team this afternoon (Wednesday), and some of the remaining college and supplemental draft picks are expected to join the team this week as well. Simon is set to arrive by week's end. Newcomers Kia McNeill, Lianne Sanderson, and Joanna Lohman, college draft pick Maddy Evans, and supplemental draft pick Lauren Alkek also took to the field, along with a number of preseason invitees.
"It’s interesting," Whitehill said of playing alongside a number of new faces. "When you start soccer, a lot of it has to do with chemistry. So a lot of us don’t know each other’s tendencies. Even though I know Kia McNeill very, very well, just playing in the back with her earlier today, we were learning each other’s tendencies then. So it’s good that we have these few weeks of preparation to really get that going. It’s all about expectations and professionalism, and a lot of these girls are learning that along the way, but everybody’s been excited. It’s nice having some of the old Breakers back. We look to each other a little bit right now because we know each other."
The players were under the watchful eye of Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole and first-year assistant coach Maren Rojas. Cole likes what she sees after just a couple days of training and is also excited to return to the field.
"It’s been good. I’m excited we’re kicking a ball, the players are in uniform and out on the field," she said. "We have some good, young players trying out and some veterans that are establishing things and setting the tone. We’ll have a couple games to see where we are and to sort out positions."
The Breakers open the 2013 NWSL season April 14 at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville against the Washington Spirit. For tickets, visit www.breakerstickets.com or call 617-945-1704.