New England Soccer Today

Breakers Blow It Late

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Boston Breakers welcomed back all eight of their World Cup competitors last night and one of them – Kelly O’Hara – stepped up with a two-goal effort in a 2-2 draw against the Western New York Flash before a record crowd of 6,222 at Harvard Stadium.

O’Hara scored in the 20th and 84th minutes, while the Flash countered with goals in the 38th and 87th minutes from World Cup stars Marta and Alex Morgan, respectively.

Neither team could maintain possession long enough to consistently create a number of offensive chances.  The Breakers’ engine in midfield, Keelin Winters, struggled for support because midfielder Leslie Osborne often had to track back to help the defense contend with the Flash’s potent offensive players.

But Boston caught a break in the 19th minute, when Meghan Klingenberg collected possession outside the penalty area and found Katie Schoepfer in space.  Schoepfer then played it to O’Hara, who darted into the box and slid the ball into the net for the opening score.

The Flash didn’t wait long to respond when Becky Edwards found Marta with five yards of space outside the penalty area in the 38th minute.  Scott tried to track back and hold off Marta, but the Brazilian controlled the ball and fired a low drive past Alyssa Naeher to level the game.

“For the first goal, we want her shooting from there because we think we can handle that. But that’s the player Marta is,” said Scott.  “They have top quality players and they can score goals like that.”

Morgan was substituted in at halftime for the Flash and nearly scored within minutes of coming on.  In the 59th Morgan took hold of possession on the right flank and drove past four defenders before shooting a slow rolling shot at Naeher, who had to stop it from going over the goal line after fumbling the save.

The Breakers had to hold their collective breaths again after the hour when Yael Auerbuch hit the joint of the crossbar after finding herself in space on the left wing off a defensive giveaway in the 61st minute.

Boston managed to weather the storm after nearly conceding twice and began launching a series of attacks.  DiCicco brought on Nikki Marshall to help support the offense, a move which paid dividends for the Breakers in the 84th minute, when Marshall found O’Hara with space in the penalty area.  O’Hara then set up a give and go with Claire Zimmeck and finished the play by finding the back of the net with a shot to the far post.

“That was a great build-up by everyone,” said O’Hara. “Marshall tracked the ball down and played a great ball in. I was able to turn and find Zimmeck and she played in a split pass through inside the box.  I was thankfully able to get on the end of it and finish it.”

But the Breakers were unable to see the game out and failed to clear the remnants of a Marta freekick in the 87th minute.  The gaffe led to a defensive giveaway that found Morgan in the penalty area, who left-footed a volley off of the crossbar and into the back of the net.

“She has one chance and she scores a goal and that’s the difference at this level,” said Scott. “You get one opportunity and you need to put it away, and that’s the player she is.”

“You hate to give up a late goal like that,” said DiCicco. “Their experience got them that goal late.  Alex Morgan had a goal scorer’s goal, got a foot on it and put it in the corner.  We had a chance to clear it and we didn’t clear it well and she was wide open in the penalty area.”

“Scoring the 84th minute, you shouldn’t give up a goal before the end of the game.”

With the draw, the Breakers are now in a three-way tie (along with Western New York and Sky Blue) for third place, which makes their race for a playoff berth even more treacherous with just five games remaining.

And although the Breakers didn’t get the result they were hoping for, having a record-crowd on hand for the match, not to mention greater visibility in Boston as a result of some Red Sox-Breakers joint events, was something that wasn’t lost on the Breakers’ players.

“It was awesome the Red Sox recognized a lot of the players last night,” said Osborne. “I still think we can get more people out here.  I think that everyone who (came out here) wants to come back.”

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