- By Katie Peverada
(Aug. 8, 2015) – In front of 4,137 fans at Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium, the Boston Breakers downed the Washington Spirit, 2-1, in their final home match of the season Saturday night.
The Breakers, who moved to 4-10-3 with the victory, got the engine going early, scoring two goals in the first 20 minutes of play for the early lead.
“It was a fantastic effort by a group of girls who have been working really hard. We flew across country, (had) some tired legs, but showed a lot of heart today against a very good team, so we’re very pleased,” Boston Breakers assistant coach Doc Simpson said. “We knew they (Washington) were going to make a push (in the second half), and they did exactly what we thought they would do, but we held on in the end."
After Boston earned its first corner of the game, Kristie Mewis sent the ensuing corner towards the back post. Amongst the flurry of Washington defenders was a waiting Julie King, and the Breakers defender was able to rise above the other heads and sent the ball back in the direction it came from into the net. It was King’s second goal of the season.
Boston continued to keep the pressure on offensively as well, and took a 2-0 lead in the 18th minute on a goal from Kyah Simon.
Stephanie McCaffrey worked the right side of the field before sending in a cross past Washington defender Katherine Reynolds. McCaffrey’s ball was parried out by keeper Kelsey Wys, but Ali Krieger’s first touch sent it back towards the net where Simon was able to tap it in for her second goal of the season.
“Steph did really well to bait her player and make something of quite small opportunity, and I just happened to be in a dangerous area,” Simon said. “When you feed a ball in there, between the defenders and the goal, anything can happen, and it came off one of their players, and I was just there to pick up the scraps and make sure it went in.”
The first test of the game for Breakers keeper Alyssa Naeher and the Boston defense came in the seventh minute, when Crystal Dunn was sent in with the ball and the keeper made a quick kick save with her feet. In the fourth minute, Dunn was able to thread the ball through to Francisca Ordega, but her ensuing shot was denied by Naeher. Washington kept up the offensive pressure for the remainder of the half – having two threatening headers – but nothing was able to penetrate the Boston defense.
Alyssa Naeher made a season-high 11 saves on the night (Photo By Mike Gridley)
And in boding true to the theme of offense being the best defense, Boston kept trying to add to the lead. After several seconds of fancy footwork in the 38th minute, Rafinha was able to loft a ball into the box for Simon and Mewis, with Mewis eventually connecting. Unfortunately, a coinciding collision with a Spirit defender sent Mewis’ ball wide right of Wys and the goal.
Wys had one save in the game on three Breakers’ shots.
The first few minutes of the second half was a bit of a role reversal, with the Spirit putting the pressure on the Breaker defense, and the Spirit eventually pulled within one, putting one home just four minutes in to the second 45, despite the best efforts of Naeher.
Naeher made several spectacular saves in the process, but was unable to make a fifth and the Spirit pulled one back. The play started with Dunn on the doorstep, but she took a shot at a charging Naeher, and then took a follow up shot that Naeher split her legs to save. Naeher quickly got to her feet to make a third save on Dunn. Lauren Lazo made a block on the fourth shot, and Naeher made a one-handed save on a fifth shot from Tori Huster, but Diana Matheson was finally able to burst through and slide the ball home.
Naeher once again stood tall all game, making 11 saves on 27 Spirit shots, 12 of which were on goal. Naeher was especially tested again and again in the second half. In the 58th minute, Matheson gained the right wing and sent in a cross that Dunn line dup for the one-timer, but Naeher was ready to make the instinct save, getting down to her right to keep the lead. In the 62nd minute, Naeher turned to her vertical reach to keep it 2-1, as she got a paw on a dangerous cross from Josephine Chukunonye.
Despite dangerous chances throughout the game, the Breakers defense kept the league-leading goal scorer Dunn off the scoreboard, despite several lethal shots from the UNC product.
It was Matheson and Dunn that combined in the 34th minute for Washington’s best chance of the half, with the Canadian National Team player sending the striker in to the six with the ball, but Dunn’s shot hit the side netting. Minutes earlier, Matheson almost connected with Huster, but King was there with her head once again, this time for the clearance.
It was Dunn in the 66th minute that tested Naeher, as she unleashed a rocket on net, but the Boston keeper was once again there to get low and punch it away. Naeher had Dunn’s number again 60 seconds later, coming out to deny Dunn a one-on-one shooting opportunity. Dunn kept pressuring in the final minute of the game, too, sending in a knuckler of a shot in the 78th minute and just missing with a shot wide right in the 90th.
On the whole, the Breakers defense withstood the Spirit pressure in the last 15 minutes of the game. Naeher made a one-handed punch on a 25-yard-out dead ball from Christine Nairn. Mollie Pathman and Maddy Evans stepped up at the right times for clearances in the 83rd and 84th minutes, and Pathman was there in stoppage time to clear the ball off the line while Evans was there seconds before the whistle to clear the ball and deny Matheson a final look at goal.
“We’ve progressed gradually, and we’ve got a lot to improve and things we want to work on,” Simon said. “We’ve got a very young team, and we’re only going to get better and more experienced with the more games we play together.”
The Breakers return to action Aug. 22 at FC Kansas City. Season tickets for 2016 are on sale now. To purchase tickets, visit www.breakerstickets.com.
Match: Boston Breakers vs. Washington
Date: Aug. 8, 2015
Venue: Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium, Allston, Mass.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: 72 degrees, sunny
BOS: Alyssa Naeher, Lauren Lazo (Bia, 78), Julie King, Kassey Kallman, Mollie Pathman, Amy Barczuk, Katie Schoepfer (Maddy Evans, 71), Rafinha (Nkem Ezurike, 64), Kristie Mewis, Kyah Simon, Stephanie McCaffrey
Subs not used: Jami Kranich, Morgan Marlborough, Stephanie Verdoia, Rachel Wood
WAS: Kelsey Wys, Ali Krieger, Katherine Reynolds (Hayley Raso, 81), Estelle Johnson, Tori Huster (Whitney Church, 61), Angela Salem, Diana Matheson, Megan Oyster, Francisca Ordega, Josephine Chukunonye (Whitney Church, 46), Crystal Dunn
Subs not used: Joanna Lohman, Amanda DaCosta, Caprice Dydasco
GOALS 1 2 F
Boston (4-10-3) 2 0 2
Washington (7-5-2) 0 1 1
Goal Time Team Goal Scorer Assist
1 12 Boston Julie King Kristie Mewis
2 38 Boston Kyah Simon
3 49 Washington Diana Matheson
SHOTS ON GOAL
BOS: Kyah Simon (caution, 30), Nkem Ezurike (caution, 79), Stephanie McCaffrey (caution, 90)
WAS: Megan Oyster (caution, 33), Angela Salem (caution, 85)
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referees: Jeffrey Skinner, Amilcar Sicaju
Fourth Official: Ian McKay