Breakers head to New Jersey to face first-place Sky Blue FC

 Saturday begins a stretch of three games in nine days for the Breakers, and it starts in New Jersey, where the Breakers take on first-place Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field at 7 p.m. ET. This is the first of four meetings this season for the former Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) rivals.

"Sky Blue has always been a good matchup for us," Boston Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole said. "Jim (Gabarra) is a good coach, and I know he’ll have a team that’ll be ready to go."

Sky Blue FC is off to its best starts in franchise history, leading the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) with a 6-1-1 record, level on points with Portland Thorns FC for top spot in the NWSL table. You can watch Saturday night’s match live on the NWSL YouTube page.

The Breakers (3-1-2, 11 points, third place) come into the game fresh off Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Washington Spirit at home, a game in which midfielder Lianne Sanderson assisted on all three goals, earning her NWSL Player of the Week honors. Sanderson leads the NWSL in assists with six. She assisted on goals by Katie Schoepfer, Kyah Simon, and Heather O’Reilly.

Speaking of O’Reilly, she, along with forward Sydney Leroux and Canadian defender Rhian Wilkinson, will not be with the club this weekend. All three are in Toronto for Sunday’s Canada vs. U.S. friendly at BMO Field. Sky Blue FC will be without its leading scorer, Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt, as well as U.S. Women’s National team defenders Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara and keeper Jill Loyden, who hasn’t played for Sky Blue FC this season due to a hand injury.

"Both teams look different leading up to this. It’ll be different, but I think we’ll both be prepared," Cole said. "It’ll be a good opportunity for some of the younger players."

Sky Blue FC brings a wealth of talent to the field, including keeper Brittany Cameron, who this week was named NWSL Player of the Month. Cameron leads the league in shutouts (5) and has only allowed four goals this season. Sky Blue FC also has a potent attack, even without Schmidt. Australian international Lisa De Vanna has two goals this season, while Taylor Lytle has two goals off the bench. Defensively, Sky Blue FC features 18-year-old Australian Caitlin Foord, who plays alongside Breaker Kyah Simon for both club (Sydney FC) and country.

The Breakers head to New Jersey with a roster loaded with offensive threats. Simon, Schoepfer, and midfielder Joanna Lohman have combined for four goals. Sanderson’s six assists lead the team, while Simon and holding midfielder Mariah Nogueira, each have one assist. Nogueira, along with the back line of Wilkinson, Cat Whitehill, Kia McNeill, and Julie King, held Washington without a shot on goal in last weekend’s win. Whitehill, McNeill, King, are projected to start Saturday, and either Lisa-Marie Woods, Maddy Evans, or Jenny LaPonte are expected to start in place of Wilkinson.

Without Leroux, the Breakers are likely to go with Canadian striker Adriana Leon up top. They also have a number of forwards at their disposal, including Kate Howarth and Mexican international Anisa Guajardo, who is rostered for the first time this season.

In goal, the Breakers will likely go with Ashley Phillips, who is 1-0-2 this season. Backup Cecilia Santiago is 2-1-0 with one shutout. In addition to LaPonte and Evans, midfielder Kate Russell was called up for Saturday’s match.

After Saturday’s match at Sky Blue FC, the Breakers return home Wednesday, June 5, to take on Abby Wambach and the Western New York Flash at Dilboy Stadium, before hitting the road on Sunday, June 9, to face the Chicago Red Stars. Tickets for the June 5 game against the Flash are available by visiting www.breakerstickets.com or by calling 617-945-1704.

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