The Breakers got a goal from defender Elli Reed in the 22nd minute, and it held up for the remainder of the match as the Breakers took a 1-0 win over the Western New York Flash Sunday afternoon in Rochester to secure first place in WPSL Elite and win the league’s regular season title.
The Breakers got a goal from defender Elli Reed in the 22nd minute, and it held up for the remainder of the match as the Breakers took a 1-0 win over the Western New York Flash Sunday afternoon in Rochester to secure first place in WPSL Elite and win the league’s regular season title. Keeper Alice Binns made 10 saves, including several diving stops, while the defense held strong to defend against 16 corner kicks.
"I think we’ve been a good team all year. We’ve been consistent. I’m proud of the effort we put on today. It was a professional win; we slugged it out," Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole said. "Give the Flash credit. They’re a good team. They pressured us hard."
Julie King clears a ball away from Flash forward Stephanie Ochs (Photo by Mark Novak)
After surviving some early pressure deep in their final third, the Breakers made a push and started getting some good looks on goal, attacking Flash keeper Brittany Cameron. In the 22nd minute, the Breakers earned a corner. After the ball was played into the box, a mad scramble ensued. The ball ping-ponged off several players, before Reed got a foot on it, scoring her first-ever goal for the Breakers.
"I saw Shep (Katie Schoepfer) play the ball short to Bianca (D’Agostino), and Bianca played it back to Shep, and she hit in a really nice ball. The keeper got a hand on it, but then it hit another girl’s chest, and it was bobbling around, and I just hit it in," Reed said. "It feels great, especially since it helped get us the (regular season) title. I’m very excited. There’s a good energy amongst the team, and we’re feeling good going into playoffs."
The Breakers finish the regular season with an 11-3 record, the most wins in franchise history. The team won 10 games under Tony DiCicco in 2010 (WPS) and 10 games under Pia Sundhage in 2003 (WUSA). This is Boston’s second regular season title in franchise history, the first since 2003 when Sundhage led Boston to a 10-4-7 record.
Leslie Osborne defends against McCall Zerboni in Sunday’s win (Photo by Mark Novak)
In Sunday’s win at Sahlen’s Stadium, the Flash started off dominating possession, forcing Binns to make big saves. The Flash had three big chances in the first 20 minutes of play, but diving saves by Binns stopped the goals from crossing the line.
Binns was tested early and often, but the Breakers rookie played one of her best games of the season to register her sixth clean sheet in 12 starts. Binns got some help in the 20th minute when D’Agostino cleared a ball off the line, a back heel flick by Jamaican international Omolyn Davis, which was created off a corner kick by McCall Zerboni.
"It was obviously nervewracking because it’s all or nothing," Binns said. "I was really excited to play for the league (title) up against some really good players. My defense did so many good things. Everyone contributed. It wasn’t just one person."
After Reed’s goal in the 22nd minute, the Breakers started to apply more pressure, but couldn’t get enough open space to create chances. Both the Flash and Breakers ended the first half with five shots. Into the second half, the Flash continued to create chances for an equalizer, but were unable to get the ball past Binns.
The best chance for Boston in the second half came in the 78th minute when Kyah Simon took a cross from Courtney Jones, dummied by Schoepfer, but Cameron rushed off her line to deflect the shot away from goal to keep Boston’s lead from doubling. Flash midfielder, Australian Emily van Egmond, nearly leveled the match in the 85th minute, rocketing a shot just over the bar from close range. The Flash had one final chance, a corner kick in the 94th minute, but Binns punched it out.
"She was big today," Cole said. "She was focused."
A contigent of Breakers fans made the trek from Boston to Rochester, which caught Binns by surprise.
"I love the fanbase," Binns said. "I was surprised how many of them drove out here. It was great to have their support today."
Playoffs for the WPSL Elite are being held Wednesday, July 25, at Sahlen’s Stadium. The first playoff match will take place at 5 p.m. between the No. 2 seed Flash (9-2-3, 30 points) and the No. 3 seed New York Fury (9-3-2, 29 points). The second game, at 8 p.m. ET, features the Breakers (11-3-0, 33 points) vs. No. 4 seed Chicago Red Stars (9-4-1, 28 points). All matches take place at Sahlen’s Stadium, 460 Oak St., Rochester, N.Y. The winners will play Saturday, July 28, at 1 p.m. at Sahlen’s Stadium in the 2012 WPSL Elite Championship. The games will be streamed live at livesportsvideo.com.