For passionate Boston Breakers fans

Breakers Clinch Playoff Spot In Season Finale

Posted by tonybiscaia on August 15, 2011

By Julian Cardillo

Cambridge, MA- With their playoff hopes on the line, the Breakers wasted no time asserting themselves in their final regular season game against Sky Blue FC. Lauren Cheney was instrumental in her second straight start after being out with an ankle injury, and scored in the first minute to give the Breakers the lead. Cheney scored again midway through the first half, helping Boston shut down Sky Blue and close out a crucial 2-0 victory in front of 4,289 fans.

The Breakers’ energy on the field was unmatched by any other of their performances this season. There was however added pressure on Boston, who were in a must-win situation if they wanted to clinch the final spot in the WPS playoffs. The result was a let-off for Sky Blue, who entered the match tied with Boston on points but had a better goal differential and only needed a draw to make the playoffs.

“It was a really good win, it shows the pride in the team,” said Coach Tony DiCicco. “I like where we are right now, I’m really pleased with the effort. Sky Blue is a very good attacking team with lots of options, but our defense really limited their opportunities. We didn’t want to go out with a loss at home.”

Boston has arguably been better on paper than on the field, as their roster boasts plenty of talent including nine World Cup veterans. But due to injuries and absences caused by the World Cup last month, the Breakers were unable to train their full team on a consistent basis. But the Breakers trained together last week and used six World Cup veterans in their starting lineup against Sky Blue.

“When we got back from the World Cup we had five games in fourteen days, so there’s no training in that,” added DiCicco. “Finally we had a week to train, and try to get people back on the same page.”

The Breakers proved that their training paid off, scoring the fastest goal in WPS history just fourteen seconds into the match. Rachel Buehler sent the ball forward to Keelin Winters, who then played the ball into the penalty area for Cheney. Cheney collected Winters’ pass with her chest and volleyed a shot into the back of the net.

“That was actually a play, and it finally worked,” said DiCicco. “Play it back, find Keelin Winters, she flicks it on and we’re in behind the defense. It wasn’t clean but it was something we designed. And today it worked.”

“Winters crossed the ball and I don’t think the goalkeeper was expecting me to hit it one time,” said Cheney. “ I just got a piece of it.”

Cheney then doubled her tally in the 18th minute, slotting a feed from Meghan Klingenberg past goalkeeper Jenni Branam for her third goal of the season.

“The defender lost me a little bit,” said Cheney. “Klingenberg crossed the ball, I beat the defender and then I just hit it in. We changed our formation. We played a 4-4-2, and I think we just had more options forward, and we played more of an attacking style.”

“Cheney was healthier today than she’s been,” added DiCicco. “She’s getting stronger, and you saw today with her two goals. And that’s huge for us.”

In the 38th minute, Kelley O’Hara found herself on a breakaway off a Cheney feed and hit the crossbar with her right footed shot. Sky Blue cleared the danger and were able to generate their first meaningful attempt of the match, a left footed shot from outside the penalty area by Therese Sjogran that goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher tipped over the crossbar. Naeher, who was named Breakers’ player of the year before the match, finished the game with seven saves.

The Breakers will travel to Boca Raton, Florida to take on magicjack in the first round of the playoffs on August 17. The winner of Wednesday’s game will then go on to play Philadelphia in the semi-final. Western New York Flash, who finished the regular season in first place, clinches an automatic place in the final match and will play the winner of the semi-final.

“It’s a tough game,” said DiCicco of the Breakers’ first playoff game. “[Magicjack] have Abby Wambach, but we’ll come up with a tactic. We were embarrassed last time we were there, they beat us 4-0. We played a better game against them last week here, but they still beat us. We’ll be better down there again, and we’re getting healthier and that’s important.”


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