Natasha Dowie’s first half goal was enough to claim all three points, as the Breakers defence shut out the Sky Blue club who had scored in each of their last twelve matches.
Even first half
After their disappointing defeat to FC Kansas City last week, the Breakers with an excellent tempo, clearly looking to impress the crowd in their home opener.
Number one draft pick Rose Lavelle has come into this NWSL season with high expectations on her, and it looks like she’s thriving in the pressure - almost immediately her linkup with Alyssa Chapman drew a foul on the edge of the box. Rosie White took the resultant free kick and almost had her first goal for Boston as she hit a great strike on frame, but Kailen Sheridan made an impressive diving stop to her right to palm the ball away.
The Breakers were keeping up a high energy press throughout the first half, although Sky Blue looked comfortable in possession at the back. The one moment when Adriana Leon was able to rob centre-back Mandy Freeman of the ball and drive towards goal, Christie Pearce made an important block to prevent the ball going towards an unmarked Dowie in the middle.
Despite the pressure from the Breakers, it was Sky Blue who were creating the better chances in the opening half hour. Leah Galton was a thorn in Boston’s side, and her services were nearly put away not once but twice; first, a header knocked into the path of Sam Kerr was blazed over, before an inch-perfect cross saw Kelley O’Hara have a headed effort well saved by a confident-looking Abby Smith in the Breaker net.
A slip from Angela Salem in her defensive box allowed Kerr a clean shot on goal, but she hit her effort straight towards Smith.
Lavelle was looking the brightest spark in the Boston attack, and it was her assist that lead to the home side taking the lead. She showed good strength to win the ball in her own half, before carrying the ball through midfield unchallenged. After picking her head up she threaded a pass through to Dowie running goalwards, and the English striker hammered her shot just inside the right post from inside the box.
Dowie’s strike was the difference after what was an even first half.
Breakers assert their dominance
Although Sky Blue were the side in need of a goal, it seemed like the Breakers were the most likely to score in the second half. Sheridan was forced into an excellent point blank save with her foot when Dowie poked a cross goalwards. Not long after, another pinpoint through ball from Lavelle found substitute Margaret Purce, who cut inside and unleashed a right-footed shot against the crossbar.
O’Hara was one of Sky Blue’s best attacking threats so it seemed a strange move from head coach Christy Holly to drop her back into the defensive line with the Jersey team needing an equaliser. The one good look that Sky Blue had after that came from the energetic Kerr as she flew into the box but blazed her shot high and wide of the net.
Despite a bit of Sky Blue pressure in the dying minutes, Smith and her backline held strong to secure all three points in their home opener.
Deserved victory for Boston
Despite identical shots and shots on goal statistics, Boston were the livelier of the two sides throughout the match, and were worthy winners of this one.
They’ll look to take this positive performance into next week’s match where they host a Seattle Reign side who scored five times against the Houston Dash this weekend. Sky Blue’s next match is a home tie against FC Kansas City.