BROOKLINE, Mass. – The Boston Breakers were able to overcome the cold weather and their adversaries, beating the Northeastern Huskies 6-0 in the first pre-season friendly of 2014 on Monday at Parsons Field.
The scoring started less than a minute in, when Australian striker Lisa De Vanna finished off a Heather O’Reiley cross on a perfect glancing header. The Breakers dominated the game, with 15 shots (12 on target) while the overmatched Huskies rarely had possession, and in the final third, were unable to generate a shot.
After the first goal, the Breakers settled into a very smooth passing rhythm, but were unable to beat the Huskies keeper for the next 70 minutes. But as the final of the three 35-minute periods began– that changed.
A second goal came from Katie Schoepfer, who slid the ball under the keeper, off Molly Pathman’s cross. Pathman went on to score two goals of her own, and added another assist on one of Maddy Evan’s two goals.
The final goal came off a 30-yard laser-beam of a free kick from Schoepfer that ended up in the upper right corner. As the lights at Parsons Field turned off mid-game– with six minutes left to play– the ref was forced to call the game, one which saw the Breakers display the first signs of a side that has plenty to prove.
The Breakers now look forward to their next test against Boston College, which was ranked 19th in the nation last year, on Saturday. The Eagles are led by Boston Breakers College Academy player Stephanie McCaffrey, and US U-20 team player McKenzie Meehan.
Going forward, the Breakers have a number of key decisions they need to address, before the season starts. First and most importantly: who will play next to Cat Whitehill?
Kia McNeil, who had a great season last year, has decided to take the year off, in order to return to school. The Breakers have zero of their four allotted international roster spots remaining, after trading the last one away for Lisa DeVanna. This leaves them with a number of rookies fighting for a starting job next to a player with over 150 National Team caps, so no pressure.
Rachel Wood, Ashley Grove, and Katie Oakes each played part of the game alongside Whitehill, and all three seemed relatively solid. However, playing against a college side is not the same as playing against some of the best in the world.
The back four was rarely tested on Monday, making it hard to foresee who the favorite will be. Oakes is a beast in the air, but seemed to make a few mistakes that could have been easily exploited, including a shaky back-pass to the keeper, which Whitehill had to clear. Grove and Wood seemed more crisp, but did not exhibit the same chemistry that Oakes demonstrated in her interactions with teammates.
It remains to be seen whether or not the attacking end of the field has enough time to develop chemistry. Most of the starting XI for the Breakers played the first two periods and although they dominated the Huskies, they were unable to finish numerous scoring opportunities.
Both Lianne Sanderson and Lisa De Vanna came to camp a week after it kicked off due to international obligations, and will be leaving within the next four days – the latter to help the Australian Women against Brazil, and the former set to participate in World Cup qualifying games for the English National Team. Both players will then return to the Breakers for the season openers– but with less than two weeks of pre-season training with the team as a whole.
Kaylyn Kyle, a Canadian women’s national team midfielder, arrived in Boston on Monday and will train with the team for the first time on Tuesday. The team gelling before the start of the season is crucial for the Breaker’s success this season.