New England Soccer Today

Top 5 of 2011: Breakers

Despite the numerous struggles WPS was faced with in 2011, the Boston Breakers remained a solid squad. Thanks to an impressive post-World Cup run, the club earned its second-consecutive playoff appearance. Although they may have fallen short of the Championship game, 2011 was a remarkable year nevertheless for the Breakers.

Here are the Top 5 moments for the Breakers in 2011.

5- The Trade that Changed the Season. Midway through the season, the Breakers demonstrated just how thrifty they can be. In a four-player trade on Jun. 1, the Breakers sent Nikki Washington to magicjack in exchange for Meghan Klingenberg, Nikki Marshall and a draft allocation in the 2012 college draft. Klingenberg made an immediate impact, tallying one goal and one assist against her former club in her very first appearance in a Breakers uniform. Moreover, Klingenberg exhibited great tact on the right wing, which allowed Kelley O’Hara to move into her more natural forward role in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Nikki Marshall added depth to a depleted Breakers’ front line. With Kristine Lilly’s retirement and only one full-time forward on the roster, Marshall was exactly what the doctor ordered.

4- Don’t Blink. With O’Hara, Alex Scott, Kelly Smith and Stephanie Cox off to Germany for the World Cup, the Breakers were left a young and inexperienced team when they faced magicjack on June 5. But, in the opening 25 seconds of her first start, forward Katie Schoepfer headed in a deep cross from Klingenberg to hand the Breakers an early lead in their eventual 2-1 victory. DiCicco later stated that Schoepfer would be part of the next generation of Breakers players that would lead the team to success. Will Schoepfer inherit the goalscoring shoes when Smith enters the latter stages of her career? That’s what the Breakers will certainly hope for in the coming years.

3- Winters Arrives in Boston. The Breakers’ top draft pick from the 2011 draft was Keelin Winters, a central midfielder out of the University of Portland. The central midfielder wasted no time putting her name on the scoresheet when she put one through in her WPS debut and never stopped contributing throughout the season. Winters, who also served as the captain for the U-20 national team that won the 2008 U-20 Women’s World Cup,racked up more minutes last season than any other Breakers outfield player. She immediately fit in with veteran Leslie Osbourne inside the central midfield and often served as the catalyst that allowed the Breakers to move from offense to defense. Should Winters re-sign with Boston next season, the Breakers will once again have one of the most talented young midfielders in WPS.

2- Breakers Make it Big in Germany. In total, eight Breakers represented their respective countries at the World Cup in Germany. Five of those players played for the U.S., two with England, while one Aya Sameshima won the tournament with Japan. Although the U.S. were left stunned in the Final, they benefited greatly from the Beantown contingent. Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler, and Lauren Cheney were regular starters in Germany while Buehler and Cheney both netted the U.S.’ first two goals in their 2-0 victory against North Korea in group play. Overall, Cheney contributed two goals and three assists before an ankle injury prematurely ended her tournament while Buehler started every game but one, due to a red card she received in the quarterfinal match against Brazil. Though the U.S. failed to win the World Cup, their journey inspired many back home – one that probably wouldn’t have transpired had it not been for the Breakers.

1- DiCicco Exits. In the history of American soccer coaches, DiCicco’s name is right at the top – which is why it may be difficult to envision the Breakers without him next season. In addition to coaching the Breakers, DiCicco had a long string of successes with the U.S. Women’s National Team. In 1996, he led the U.S. to a Gold Medal at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. In 1999, he coached the U.S. to a World Cup championship, defeating China in the final game via penalty shootout in front of a packed Rose Bowl. By the time DiCicco left the national team, he had amassed a very successful record of 103-8-8. In 2008, DiCicco re-joined the national coaching fold to coach the U-20 team at the World Cup in Chile. DiCicco won the tournament with that team as well. And, many players on that team (Kiersten Dallstream, Keelin Winters, Nikki Cross) were then selected by DiCicco to play for the Breakers. Though DiCicco didn’t bring a championship to Boston, he certainly brought stability and success to the Breakers, one of the last original WPS clubs remaining. During his tenure, he brought some of the best female athletes in the world to Boston and coached a team that had excellent chemistry and produced sterling results. Though the Breakers have confidence in his successor, Lisa Cole, there’s no doubt that DiCicco’s boots will be tough to fill.

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