May 2, 2014 - The second National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) match running, the Boston Breakers face up against Sky Blue FC Saturday. It is the Breakers’ second away trip of the season, and the game will take place at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. (kickoff at 7pm ET).
Following their first win of the season, last Sunday against the same opposition, the Breakers travel to New Jersey in good heart. A match-winning, captain’s performance from Lianne Sanderson saw the England international named NWSL Player of the Week as she scored twice and came up with an assist to sink Sky Blue, 3-2, giving Boston its first win of the season.
"We are coming off our best week of training so far this season, so the home victory was a nice confidence booster for the team,” Boston Breakers Head Coach Tom Durkin said. “Everyone seems to be pulling in the same direction, and I expect an improved performance from last week. Although we are playing away, Sky Blue played a tough match on Wednesday night, so we hope to be able to dictate the tempo and rhythm of the game. It was also nice to be on grass (this week in practice), and I am looking forward to playing at Rutgers.”
In addition to NWSL Player of the Month nominee Sanderson’s display last weekend, Breakers supporters at Harvard Stadium also got to enjoy a goal and an assist from third-year Breakers defender Julie King. Playing at right-back, King was in prime position to open the scoring after Sanderson drove the ball back into the Sky Blue area following a half-cleared corner. She returned the favor later in the first half by playing a pass over the top of the Sky Blue backline for Sanderson to hold off Lindsi Cutshall and lift a half-volley over Jill Loyden.
Sandwiched between those two Breakers goals was an equaliser from Sky Blue’s Mónica Ocampo. An incisive pass from Taylor Lytle in the visitors’ midfield found the Mexican forward, and she produced a clever, clipped finish over the advancing Alyssa Naeher, despite Breakers defender Ashley Grove’s attempt to clear. Boston went on to win the game, with a driven strike into the bottom corner by Sanderson, making it 3-1, before one-time Breakers draft pick Ashley Nick headed a consolation for Sky Blue at the death.
Lisa De Vanna, Lianne Sanderson, and Chelsea Stewart celebrate Julie King's goal last week vs SBFC
Sky Blue returned to action on Wednesday, losing 2-0 at home to leaders Seattle Reign FC at a soaking Yurcak Field. The loss left Jim Gabarra’s team without a win from their first four games and a record of 0-2-2. Loyden’s miscue in the difficult conditions allowed Seattle’s Nahomi Kawasumi to put her team into the lead. Beverly Goebel added a second later on for the visitors.
Sky Blue’s Canadian international midfielder Sophie Schmidt, scorer of seven goals last season, had a penalty saved by Seattle Reign keeper Hope Solo after 87 minutes. Schmidt then put a chance over the bar in the closing stages, but her skill at finding space for herself in the opposing box was in evidence in the game with the Breakers.
Boston, currently 1-2-0, also has to shut down the creativity of Sky Blue’s Katy Freels. The 24-year-old midfielder had six NWSL assists in 2013 and she got her first of this season when her corner found Nick to pull it back to 3-2 against the Breakers. Freels also got Sky Blue’s first goal of the 2014 campaign when equalizing in the 1-1 opening draw at FC Kansas City.
"(Sky Blue) is quite solid and especially tough in midfield with forwards checking back to the ball and full backs overlapping down the flanks,” Durkin said. “I expect them to be at their best, and after watching the game back, I’m certain that they feel they deserved more out of the match and will look to play much in the same manner as they did on Sunday night in Boston. Our lineup and tactics will not change all that much from the past weekend, but I suspect we will play far better."
The Breakers will want to see more of the exciting link-up between Lisa De Vanna and Heather O’Reilly. The two combined on several occasions in the match with Sky Blue last Sunday, and although she helped instigate Sanderson’s second goal, Australian forward De Vanna will be eager to score against her former team. During last weekend’s game, Naeher made six saves, while Loyden registered three.
Boston and Sky Blue have representatives in the Canada and U.S. squads ahead of the May 8 friendly in Winnipeg. Breakers forward Nkem Ezurike, who made her NWSL debut as a late sub last Sunday, was named on John Herdman’s roster. Sky Blue’s Sophie Schmidt and forward Jonelle Filigno were also called up. For the U.S., the Breakers are represented by O'Reilly, while Sky Blue FC sees Loyden, Christie Rampone, and Kelley O'Hara heading north of the border with the U.S.
You can follow the action from Yurcak Field between the Breakers and Sky Blue live Saturday night (7 p.m. ET start) on YouTube.
Boston returns to Harvard Stadium for a home game with the Chicago Red Stars on Thursday, May 15. Tickets are available from www.breakerstickets.com or by calling 617-945-1704.