Former Breakers competed at the UEFA Women's EURO

 After more than a year of qualifying and playoff matches, 11 teams joined host Sweden to compete in the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 Final Tournament this July. Two former Breakers, Alex Scott and Kelly Smith, made it to the final tournament, playing for England. Former Breakers Head Coach Pia Sundhage had the chance to coach Sweden’s Women’s National Team.

 By Samantha Gignac

After more than a year of qualifying and playoff matches, 11 teams joined host Sweden to compete in the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 Final Tournament this July. Two former Breakers, Alex Scott and Kelly Smith, made it to the final tournament, playing for England. Former Breakers Head Coach Pia Sundhage had the chance to coach Sweden’s Women’s National Team in its home country.

Sundhage coached the Breakers during the 2003 Women’s United Soccer Association season, winning the league title and coach of the year honors. Smith and Scott were part of the Breakers Women’s Professional Soccer teams in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

For the first round of the final tournament, the 12 teams were divided into three groups of four. This group stage took place over eight days and each team played against the three other teams in their group. Sweden came in first its group with a 2-0-1 record. The team played an intense first game against Denmark, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Denmark scored the first goal of the match in the 26th minute, which Nilla Fischer answered with a goal for Sweden before the end of the first half. Denmark’s goalie was able to hold off two penalty kicks at the end of the game to secure the tie.

Former Breakers Alex Scott, Coach Pia Sundhage, and Kelly Smith competed in the 2013 EUROS

The rest of the games were easier for Sweden, and the team came away with two wins, beating Finland, 5-0, and Italy, 3-1. Fischer scored two more goals in Sweden’s match against Italy along with teammates Lotta Schelin, who also scored two goals, and Kosovare Asllani, who scored one. In Sweden’s final group stage match against Italy, the first three goals were scored by Raffaella Manieri (own goal), and Lotta Schelin and Josefine Öqvist for Sweden. Italy did not score its first and only goal until the 78th minute.

Unfortunately, former Breakers Scott and Smith did not have as much luck as Sundhage in the tournament. England ended up in the last place of its group with a 0-1-2 record. England fell to Spain in its first match, 3-2. The next game was more fortuitous for the former Breakers however, despite ending in a draw. The game against Russia marked Scott’s 100th cap for England. There was a lot riding on this very important milestone game for the England defender, and although she was not able to celebrate it with a win, her team pulled together in the final minutes to secure a tie for England. Midfielder Kelly Smith only played 12 minutes in the match against Russia, but she made them count, and it was off of her deflected cross which teammate Dugan scored a goal in the 93rd minute to equalize the game. England’s hopes of moving on to the quarterfinals were soon crushed however, when the team suffered a 3-0 loss in its game against France. Neither Scott nor Smith played at during this final match. In the two games of the final tournament that she did compete in, Scott played a total of 180 minutes. Smith’s only appearance in the final tournament was her time at the end of the match against Russia.

Sweden played its quarterfinal game Sunday, July 21, and won, 4-0, against Iceland. Goals for Sweden were scored by Marie Hammarström, Öqvist and Schelin (two). The other three teams to win their quarterfinal games were Germany, Norway, and Denmark, who beat France in penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie.

Sweden’s luck ran out in the semifinals, however, suffering a 1-0 loss to eventual champions Germany, which beat Norway, 1-0, in the finals.

Four of Sundhage’s players were named to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 all-star squad: Schelin, Öqvist, Fischer, and former Western New York Flash midfielder Caroline Seger.

Schelin also won the adidas Golden Boot, finishing as tournament’s top scorer (five goals). Fischer took home the Silver Boot for scoring three goals.

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