A tie for the Breakers at Sky Blue FC

Naeher comes up big for Boston

(June 23, 2014) – In their 13th game of this National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season, the Boston Breakers finally came out with a tie, thanks to a 1-1 draw away to Sky Blue FC on Sunday afternoon.

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(June 23, 2014) – In their 13th game of this National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season, the Boston Breakers finally came out with a tie, thanks to a 1-1 draw away to Sky Blue FC on Sunday afternoon. It could have been much more rueful had it not been for Alyssa Naeher’s tremendous performance and penalty save from Sky Blue’s Katy Freels on 86 minutes. Jazmine Reeves had brought the Breakers back level on 32 minutes following a 2nd-minute opener from Kelley O’Hara.

This was a meeting of the bottom two teams in the NWSL, with the Breakers at the foot of the table and their hosts in 8th, two points ahead but having played one more game. The plan for Boston was to take the three points and move ahead of Sky Blue but it began very badly at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J.

In just the second minute, right full-back Caitlin Foord darted at the Breakers’ left side, beating Mollie Pathman, Kristie Mewis and Cat Whitehill. The Australian then managed to block Julie King’s clearance and regain control after briefly overrunning it. She cut a simple pass across the six-yard box where O’Hara was ready to pounce and put Jim Gabarra’s team into an early lead.

Mexican forward Mónica Ocampo then set about pursuing her third of the season against the Breakers, having notched in the previous two games, on April 27th and May 3rd. Ocampo sent two attempts wide of the mark but the way she got in behind for the second was another warning for Boston.

King then rose to meet a Lianne Sanderson corner but Jill Loyden was more than equal to it. Sky Blue’s Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt played in Ocampo but she again fired away from the target.

Boston captain Whitehill was up with the attack and the defender won possession in the box before passing to Reeves who shot wide. Goalscorer and one-time Breakers player O’Hara tried two more efforts on goal without success but the scores would be tied on 31 minutes.

Chelsea Stewart picked out Sanderson with a cross but as the England forward took a touch to control it was snatched away from her before she could fire a shot on goal. Less than a minute later though, the Breakers were celebrating as a long pass from Mewis had Reeves running on to poke a precise finish beyond Loyden as defenders tried in vain to stop her.

It was a fourth goal of the season for the rookie forward following her outstanding treble in the 4-1 win against Portland Thorns last month. Mewis also doubled her assist tally for the season with the pass, in what was her sixth appearance.

Making her debut at full-back was Bianca Sierra who had arrived as part of the trade that saw Lisa De Vanna head to Washington Spirit this week. Sierra had a superb afternoon and she was on her guard towards the end of the first half, stopping O’Hara as she prepared to shoot.

With the scores level at the break, Heather O’Reilly, back from winning her 205th U.S. Women’s National Team cap against France on Thursday, tried to go around Loyden on 51 minutes but overran it. O’Hara and sub Nikki Stanton tried their luck for Sky Blue while Reeves saw a relatively tame strike saved for Boston.

Sierra continued to impress for the Breakers with some vital interventions to deny Mexican teammate Ocampo but the remaining drama began on 85 minutes. A Sky Blue free-kick just outside the box was struck and adjudged to have hit a hand in the box. Freels, Sky Blue’s leading scorer with four goals, stepped up to take the penalty but Naeher dived to her right and pushed it away at full stretch.

There was still time for Naeher to make another stop, this time from Schmidt, and she finished the game with eight saves on the day. The whistle blew, signalling the first tie of the season for the Breakers (3-9-1) as Tom Durkin’s team stay 9th, one place below Sky Blue (2-6-6), although still with a game in hand.

The Breakers’ standout performer on the day, alongside Alyssa Naeher, was undoubtedly Bianca Sierra. The 21-year-old made several important challenges to help keep Boston in the game and she is looking ahead with anticipation following a very impressive debut.

“I was very excited to meet the team last night and everyone was very welcoming,” Sierra said. “When I found out today I was starting, everyone was very encouraging and positive and helped me out on the field.

“Everyone was talking to me and I really enjoyed playing with them. It’s a great group of girls, all hard-working and we fought until the end.

“It felt great to be a part of that and I’m excited for this six-game road trip and getting as many points as possible.”

Next up for the Breakers is a trip to Rochester, N.Y. to take on Western New York Flash on Friday, June 27th (kickoff 7.30 p.m.). This is the first of a further six away games before we return to Harvard Stadium on Sunday, August 3rd (kickoff 6.30 p.m.), when we will face Western New York again.

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