It wasn’t much of a contest in Houston as the Dash defeated the Boston Breakers 4-1. With both teams already eliminated from the playoffs, the game was more about finishing out the regular season with wins than anything else. That was a much harder task for Boston, who was without two of their strongest players. Whitney Engen was unavailable because of a right hamstring strain, and Julie King was suspended because of yellow card accumulation.
Although the Dash was missing Rachel Daly, who was overseas with the England women’s national team, their team was remarkably stronger, especially since Carli Lloyd’s return from injury and her U.S. national team Olympic duties. With Lloyd, Kealia Ohai and Janine Beckie in the attack, Houston dominated the match, testing Breakers goalkeeper Jami Kranich—a last minute lineup change after Libby Stout pulled a quad during warm ups—for much of the night.
Beckie put the Dash on the board first when Lloyd sent a through ball to her on the run. Kranich tried to cut off Beckie’s angle, but Beckie nutmegged Kranich to score the first goal of the half. Beckie then assisted on the Dash’s second goal when she had a look on goal but opted instead to send a cross to Ohai, catching Kranich off guard and allowing Ohai to score. The goal was Ohai’s tenth goal of the season, temporarily putting her in the lead for the NWSL Golden Boot winner until Lynn Williams scored Western New York’s second goal against Portland.
The two-goal deficit took the wind out of Boston’s already-limp sails, but a substitution temporarily sparked new life for the team. Kristie Mewis attempted a shot on goal in the 75th minute, but it deflected off the post and back into play. Elise Krieghoff, who had just subbed in for Louise Schillgard, stripped Cari Rocarro of the deflection, turned and put the ball into the back of the net for Boston.
Unsurprising to most women’s soccer fans, Carli Lloyd scored multiple goals for the night, a brace that came late in the second half. On Lloyd’s first goal, Ohai sent the ball to Lloyd, who blasted a shot past Kranich and into the upper corner. Her second goal came just minutes later after Katie Wood took down Denise O’Sullivan in the box, resulting in a penalty kick for Houston. Somewhat surprising considering Ohai is in the Golden Boot race, Lloyd lined up to take the kick, easily converting to give Houston their fourth and final goal of the match.
The two teams will next get a week off in observation of the FIFA window during which a handful of the teams’ players will report to national team duty for international matches. Boston closes out its season with a home match against its regional rival, the Western New York Flash, on September 24. If Boston somehow wins that match, Western New York could be out of the playoffs depending on the results of Houston’s last home match pm September 25 against the Reign. If Western New York loses and Seattle wins, Seattle is going to the playoffs and the Flash is done. Suddenly, Houston’s and Boston’s regular seasons closers became much more important.
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