New England Soccer Today

Breakers Clinch Playoff Berth

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With their playoff hopes on the line, the Breakers got two goals from Lauren Cheney, who helped steer her club to a 2-0 victory over Sky Blue FC Sunday night and a WPS postseason berth on the final day of the regular season.

Cheney, who’s goal 14 seconds into the match was the fastest scored in WPS history, put the Breakers on the board immediately. She added another in the 18th minute, while Alyssa Naeher made seven saves on the night to help steer Boston to its second consecutive WPS playoff appearance.

“It was a really good win, it shows the pride in the team,” said Coach Tony DiCicco. “I like where we are right now, I’m really pleased with the effort. Sky Blue is a very good attacking team with lots of options, but our defense really limited their opportunities. We didn’t want to go out with a loss at home.”

The Breakers’ energy on the field was unmatched by any other of their performances this season.  There was however, added pressure on Boston, who were in a must-win situation if they wanted to clinch the final spot in the WPS playoffs.  The result was a let-off for Sky Blue, who entered the match tied with Boston on points but had a better goal differential and only needed a draw to make the playoffs.

Boston has arguably been better on paper than on the field, as their roster boasts plenty of talent including nine World Cup veterans.  But due to injuries and absences caused by the World Cup last month, the Breakers were unable to train their full team on a consistent basis.  But the Breakers trained together last week and used six World Cup veterans in their starting lineup against Sky Blue.

“When we got back from the World Cup we had five games in fourteen days, so there’s no training in that,” added DiCicco. “Finally we had a week to train, and try to get people back on the same page.”

The Breakers proved that their training paid off, scoring the fastest goal in WPS history just fourteen seconds into the match.  Rachel Buehler sent the ball forward to Keelin Winters, who then played the ball into the penalty area for Cheney.  Cheney collected Winters’ pass with her chest and volleyed a shot into the back of the net.

“That was actually a play, and it finally worked,” said DiCicco. “Play it back, find Keelin Winters, she flicks it on and we’re in behind the defense.  It wasn’t clean but it was something we designed.  And today it worked.”

“Winters crossed the ball and I don’t think the goalkeeper was expecting me to hit it one time,” said Cheney. “ I just got a piece of it.”

Cheney then doubled her tally in the 18th minute, slotting a feed from Meghan Klingenberg past goalkeeper Jenni Branam for her third goal of the season.

“The defender lost me a little bit,” said Cheney.  “Klingenberg crossed the ball, I beat the defender and then I just hit it in.  We changed our formation. We played a 4-4-2, and I think we just had more options forward, and we played more of an attacking style.”

“Cheney was healthier today than she’s been,” added DiCicco.  “She’s getting stronger, and you saw today with her two goals.  And that’s huge for us.”

In the 38th minute, Kelley O’Hara found herself on a breakaway off a Cheney feed and hit the crossbar with her right footed shot.  Sky Blue cleared the danger and were able to generate their first meaningful attempt of the match, a left footed shot from outside the penalty area by Therese Sjogran that Naeher tipped over the crossbar. 

The Breakers will travel to Boca Raton, Florida to take on magicjack in the first round of the playoffs on August 17.  The winner of Wednesday’s game will then go on to play Philadelphia in the semi-final.  Western New York Flash, who finished the regular season in first place, clinches an automatic place in the final match and will play the winner of the semi-final.

“It’ll (be) a tough game,” said DiCicco of the Breakers’ first playoff game.  “[Magicjack] have Abby Wambach, but we’ll come up with a tactic.  We were embarrassed last time we were there, they beat us 4-0. We played a better game against them last week here, but they still beat us.  We’ll be better down there again, and we’re getting healthier and that’s important.”

Leave a Reply