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Analysis

Breakers slam Spirit to keep playoff hopes alive

The Breakers dismantled the Spirit 5-2 on Saturday. (Photo copyright Linehan Photography for The Equalizer.)

The Breakers dismantled the Spirit 5-2 on Saturday. (Photo copyright Linehan Photography for The Equalizer)

BOYDS, Md. — The visiting Boston Breakers downed the Washington Spirit 5-2 thanks to a trio of second half goals Saturday night.  Heather O’Reilly and Rhian Wilkinson each recorded a goal and an assist for the Breakers.

Despite the final score line, the evening started out positively for the Spirit. In the 2nd minute, Diana Matheson scored on a counterattack.  Lindsay Taylor headed away a Boston corner kick to Conny Pohlers, who found Jasmyne Spencer. Spencer charged forward and found Matheson on the left flank and Matheson then tapped the ball into the right corner for the score.

Matheson’s score was the first from the run of play for the Spirit since May 16th.  The Spirit’s lead was short-lived though, as Mariah Nogueira headed in a corner kick from Heather O’Reilly in the 5th minute.

In the 9th minute and again in the 11th minute, the Spirit had opportunities to retake the lead but on each attempt the ball went over the net. The first was taken by Pohlers and the second was taken by Matheson, whose chance came from very short range after a shot by Stephanie Ochs hit the crossbar.

The score remained deadlocked until the 41st minute when Lianne Sanderson finished a difficult attempt. Sanderson’s shot hit the crossbar and then went into the net. Wilkinson was credited with the assist.

After the game Spirit head coach Mark Parsons opined that the game was lost in the first half.

“The damage was done in the first half,” he said.” I don’t think that the crowd would see that or feel that but we were tactically very poor for the first time. I thrive on us being organized, I thrive on us knowing our positions and knowing ourselves and yes, there are a lot of bodies and new changes but that’s not an excuse.  We do too much work behind the scenes to make sure people know their role and they didn’t do it in the first half.”

Two early second half goals killed any chance for a Spirit comeback. In the 48th minute Ashlyn Harris bobbled a save attempt. Wilkinson found the ball and tapped it for the score.

Less than 10 minutes later Boston scored again, this time off an O’Reilly penalty kick. Boston was awarded the penalty after Lindsay Taylor took down Joanna Lohman in the box.

Washington got one back in the 73nd minute. Ochs sent a cross into the box. Och’s cross found Pohlers, who put the ball away for the score.

Boston answered 5 minutes later to reestablish their three-goal lead. A Breakers corner kick bounced around in the box before Cat Whitehill found the back of the net.

The lopsided score line comes as little surprise given the Spirit’s plethora of injuries.  Three of the Spirit’s four would-be starting defenders were out and the fourth, Candace Chapman, went off in 5th minute.  Taylor was used an emergency outside back and Holly King was forced to play center back after Chapman left the field.  Chapman was spotted on crutches and there is no word on severity of her injury.

Parsons praised King and Taylor post game.

“The people that stepped in tonight were maybe the most effective and best players,” Parsons said. “Holly King at center back was absolutely incredible tonight.”

Saturday’s win was crucial for Boston as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the rest of these games,” Breakers coach Lisa Cole said. “We’re not in control of a destiny anymore but we are in control of how we perform late in the season and today was a good result for us, especially after going down a goal.”

Washington will face the Western New York Flash next Wednesday at Sahlen’s stadium. Boston’s next opponent is also the Flash. Boston and Western New York Flash will face off next Saturday at Dilboy Stadium.

Boston (6-7-5, 23 pts.) jumps into fifth place with the win, 4 pts. back from the Flash, who currently hold the final playoff spot. The idle Flash now have a game in hand.

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