The Boston Breakers and Sky Blue FC are certainly no strangers, having played each other since 2009, and since then they rivalry has scaled to new heights. The two teams face each other Saturday night at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J., with the Breakers looking to knock off the table leaders for the second time this season.
The Boston Breakers and Sky Blue FC are certainly no strangers, having played each other since 2009, and since then the rivalry has scaled to new heights. The two teams face each other Saturday night at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J., with the Breakers looking to knock off the table leaders for the second time this season.
This is also the fourth time in six weeks these two teams have faced each other, beginning with a 5-1 Sky Blue win on June 1 in New Jersey and then a 3-2 victory June 16 at Dilboy Stadium. The Breakers ended Sky Blue’s streak June 30 at home with a 3-2 victory, handing Sky Blue just its third loss of the season and becoming only one of two teams to beat Sky Blue this season. Western New York have earned two victories against Sky Blue.
Speaking of Western New York, the Breakers (5-5-4) can make up some ground on the Flash (6-4-5) with a win over Sky Blue Saturday night. The Flash currently hold the fourth and final playoff spot, and after failing to earn a result Thursday night at Seattle, losing 3-2, the Flash sit in fourth place on 23 points. The Breakers are currently in fifth place on 19 points. The Flash play Sunday afternoon at Portland Thorns FC and then have six games remaining, two against Boston (Aug. 3 at Dilboy and Aug. 17 at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester). The Breakers also have a game in hand.
For now, however, the Breakers are focused on the present, and that begins Saturday night. The Breakers look to extend their unbeaten streak to four games, having most recently defeated Portland, 2-0, last Saturday. Prior to that, the Breakers drew, 1-1, with Seattle Reign FC on July 3, and beat Sky Blue FC, 3-2, on June 30.
This is the second time Boston takes on Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field this season, and the Breakers have their sights set on reversing their last outing in New Jersey, a 5-1 loss on June 1.
Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole noted that this time around, both teams look a lot different than they did a month ago. Boston was without NWSL leading scorer and reigning NWSL Player of the Week Sydney Leroux (10 goals) and midfielder Heather O’Reilly (3 goals, 3 assists), who were both on international duty with the U.S. Women’s National Team, as well as Canadian defender/midfielder Rhian Wilkinson, who also missed the match due to international commitments. Sky Blue was missing U.S. Women’s National Team players, defender/forward Kelley O’Hara and keeper Jill Loyden as well as Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt, a dangerous threat on the attack.
"I think we’re a better team now than when we were then," she said. "We’re excited to play them at their place again. I think fans will get to see a good game. They’re obviously still the league leaders, so we have to be at our best. I think it will be a good matchup."
Katie Schoepfer fends off SBFC’s Danesha Adams (Photo by Mike Gridley)
The Breakers are coming off an impressive 2-0 win against Portland Thorns FC in Portland. Leroux scored both goals, and O’Reilly assisted on each of them in the victory. Keeper Alyssa Naeher saw 20 shots come her way, seven on target, and she stopped all seven to earn her first shutout of the NWSL season. Naeher made five saves to preserve a 1-1 draw July 3 at Seattle. She will, however, miss Saturday’s game at Sky Blue, still recovering from a broken nose. Ashley Phillips will get the start in goal for the Breakers. Phillips last played June 16 at home, a 3-2 loss to Sky Blue. Phillips is 1-3-3 on the season with a 1.857 goals against average.
Sky Blue FC comes into Saturday night’s contest in first place with a 9-3-3 record and with three of the top seven scorers in the league. Schmidt leads the club with six goals, followed by Australian striker Lisa De Vanna and Mexican international Monica Ocampo, who each have five goals. Keeper Brittany Cameron ranks third in the league (minimum 10 games played) in goals against average (1.001) and is tied for first in the NWSL in shutouts (7) with FC Kansas City’s Nicole Barnhart.
The Breakers boast not only the top scorer in NWSL in Leroux, but also have the league leader in assists, Lianne Sanderson, who has seven. O’Reilly is also on the leaderboard, tied for eighth in the league in goals scored (3) and ranks near the top in shooting percentage, putting 22 shots on goal of her 31 shots taken.
Saturday night’s game will air live on the National Women’s Soccer League YouTube channel. Link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqCpiUY3Gh8. Fans can also follow the league’s match tracker for in-game updates and follow the Breakers on Twitter for updates throughout the game.
Click HERE Hfor Breakers at Sky Blue FC Game Notes.