SOMERVILLE, Mass. — In a game where both teams were missing their U.S. and Canada internationals, Sky Blue FC improved their series record against the Boston Breakers to 2-0. Just two weeks after Sky Blue FC defeated the Boston Breakers 5-1 at home in New Jersey, the league co-leaders struck again, defeating Boston 3-2 at Dilboy Stadium. In front of a sellout crowd of 2,687, Sky Blue got goals from Lisa De Vanna (9′), Monica Ocampo (26′) and Katy Freels (70′), while Boston had goals from Joanna Lohman (60′) and Kyah Simon (90+’).
Just like in their first match-up, Sky Blue got on the board first and early. In the 9th minute, Ocampo got off a cross to De Vanna on the left side, and she hit a low shot to the far post that Ashley Phillips did not have a chance at. De Vanna was a bit of a handful for the Breakers defense in the first half, but went down with a back injury in the 29th minute, and did not play in the second half.
“As long as she continues to get the chances she’s had and creates the problems that she does for teams’ defenses to have to adjust to, even if she’s not scoring goals, that’s difficult to defend her,” Sky Blue FC coach Jim Gabarra said of De Vanna.
After many chances from Boston in the minutes following the goal from Sky Blue, including two shots going just wide of the post from Katie Schoepfer, Sky Blue tallied their second. In the 26th minute, Freels got off a ball into the box that deflected off Breakers defender Jo Dragotta. Ocampo got a foot on it and put it past Phillips, putting SBFC up 2-0.
While the Breakers certainly had their chances in the first half, they came back looking much stronger in the second half and applying more pressure. To start the second half, former Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher made her NWSL debut back with the Breakers, replacing starting keeper Ashley Phillips. Cat Whitehill also credited the change to their halftime speech.
“She’s a great goalkeeper,” Whitehill said of Naeher, who may have broken her her nose on a late collision (x-rays will be taken on Monday). “We have a lot of confidence in her, obviously I have a lot of confidence in Ashley as well. I just think that we had a big lift in our halftime speech. It was one of those things that was individual responsibility, and that’s where the lift came from.”
Whitehill addressed the team similarly earlier in the half during a break for injury:
“Everybody out here is not playing. You’re looking at each other for someone else to do the work. Why is that? We’re down 2-0, and we lost to this team 5-1, you should come out here with a little bit more [of] a vengeance in your mind, and they didn’t. And then everybody started to play a little bit more, but why does it take us going down 2-0? So I told everybody, we’re at a point in the season where we’re now down 2-0, because if we lose any more points we might not make the playoffs.”
Boston got many chances to start the second half, and finally got on the board in the 60th minute when Julie King got off a cross into the box and Lohman was there to put away the header. Both teams had a few more chances in the next ten minutes, but Sky Blue FC was able to get a goal back in the 70th minute when a cross from Danesha Adams made it past a number of Breakers players to Freels at the top of the box. Freels put away the shot into the upper right corner.
The Breakers would pile on the pressure for the remainder of the game with a number of chances, but didn’t get their second goal until late in stoppage time when Schoepfer got off a beautiful corner kick that found Simon’s head to put away the goal. But it was too late for Boston to complete the comeback, and the Breakers fell to Sky Blue FC 3-2.
For Boston, finishing and defense continues to be an issue.
“I think the recipe is, you’ve got to finish chances,” Breakers coach Lisa Cole said after the game. “Chances were there for us, and their third goal is just poor defending from us. Five of our players are out there watching it as they’re running their tail off to capitalize on that goal. So, it’s both things – being good off the ball, being good on the ball, and we just weren’t good enough today.”
“We need our front runners taking responsibility of doing the thing that they’re most responsible for, and that’s finishing,” Cole went onto say about their trouble with finishing chances throughout the game.
Sky Blue, on the other hand, maintains their tie for first place with the Portland Thorns with Sunday night’s win, and Gabarra has been impressed with the team’s chemistry.
“I’ve been really impressed with the team chemistry. Our second layer of leadership has been exceptional. We’ve got a handful of players who’ve played a couple of years in [past] league(s), and their roles have been more as substitutes or reserves, and I think them now getting the opportunity to step into starting roles, they’ve really taken advantage of that opportunity. Our young players are here to learn, and it’s been really good team chemistry. You never know when you’re going to get it right, but certainly right now, we’ve gotten it right.”
Boston’s next game is also at home on Wednesday, June 26 against Seattle, while Sky Blue will also be at home on Saturday against Portland. Both Sky Blue FC and Portland Thorns FC are 8-2-1 (25 pts.).
Goals by Half 1 2 F
SBFC 2 1 3
BOS 0 2 2
SBFC – De Vanna (9′); Ocampo (26′); Freels (70′)
BOS – Lohman (60′); Simon (90+’)
BOS – Dragotta (69′)
Sky Blue: Brittany Cameron, CoCo Goodson, Caitlin Foord, Kendall Johnson, Manya Makoski, Madeleine Thompson, Taylor Lytle, Monica Ocampo (Lindsi Cutshall, 90+’), Danesha Adams, Lisa De Vanna (Nayeli Rangel, 46′), Katy Freels
Boston: Ashley Phillips (Alyssa Naeher, 46′), Julie King, Cat Whitehill, Kia McNeill, Jo Dragotta (Kate Howarth, 90+’), Mariah Nogueira, Maddy Evans, Joanna Lohman, Lianne Sanderson, Kyah Simon, Katie Schoepfer
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