Categorized | Match Reports

Stalemate in the Garden State

Posted on 30 May 2010 by lbarker

The Boston Breakers came to Yurcak Field in New Jersey on Saturday night looking to stop two streaks, an all time winless record against defending WPS Champions Sky Blue FC and the five game winless streak they’ve carried since the second week of the season. After 90 minutes, the Breakers would leave with both still intact, playing to a 0-0 draw with Sky Blue. The result leaves Boston winless in their last six and Sky Blue unbeaten in their last three, but also winless in their last two (ties are a funny thing, indeed).

Heather O'Reilly said she had a lot of fun playing striker ©ASN

Sky Blue FC pressured Boston early, finding their first opportunity in just the 3rd minute. The home team got behind the Breakers defense and managed to send a ball across the goalmouth and just wide. Four minutes later the blue and orange were at it again, with Sky Blue captain Kacey White feeding a ball to Heather O’Reilly. O’Reilly, who started the game at forward rather than her usual spot in the midfield, beat Breakers ‘keeper Ashley Phillips before sending her shot into the side netting. The New Jersey native broke a 14 game national team goalless streak last weekend in Cleveland as the US played Germany, but is still looking for her first league goal this season. After the match O’Reilly said she was happy with the position change. “I have a lot of fun playing striker. I think that’s what I find the most enjoyable about the game, is just being right on the restraining line…I think that up top suits my physical qualities. So I had a lot of fun with it. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net today and that’s the job of a striker so what can you do? Hopefully next game we’ll have more goals for us.”

She also acknowledged that she’s ready to play wherever Sky Blue coach Pauliina Miettinen needs her (O’Reilly would indeed move back to the midfield when Jessica Landstrom entered the match in the 72nd minute). “Obviously I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do in terms of position…whether it’s midfield or up top.”

In the 11th minute Sky Blue midfielder Rosana took a deceptive shot from distance that seemed to surprise Phillips. The Breakers ‘keeper managed to recover enough to tip the ball over the bar for a Sky Blue corner. Nothing would come from the set piece and momentum shifted, with the next few opportunities belonging to the Breakers.

In the 14th minute Breakers forward Lauren Cheney fired a low shot, but it rolled wide of the net. Two minutes later, Boston nearly got on the board, with Kelly Smith, Alex Scott, and Laura Del Rio moving the ball into Sky Blue’s defensive third. The English to English to Spanish combination ended when Del Rio sent her shot over the crossbar. In the 21st minute Del Rio sent a low shot in that Sky Blue goalkeeper Karen Bardsley got her fingertips on, sending the ball out for a Boston corner.

Then it was again Sky Blue’s turn. O’Reilly had another opportunity in the 35th minute, but again shot the ball wide. Three minutes later Sky Blue defender Daphne Koster sent a ball over the Boston back line but Laura Kalmari’s shot went well over the crossbar. Just before the halftime whistle O’Reilly once again beat the Boston defense, but like so many of Sky Blue’s shots, hers too sailed over goal.

The second half started with a familiar face returning to the Sky Blue lineup. Forward Tasha Kai, who’s missed the last three matches with a knee/hamstring injury, replaced rookie forward Kiersten Dallstream after the break. “Pretty banged up” said Kai as she outlined her injuries after the game. Kai made her presence felt almost immediately, first playing a ball over the Boston back line for O’Reilly in the 47th minute. O’Reilly beat Amy LePeilbet and took a shot that Ashley Phillips had to stretch to keep out of the back of the net. In the 50th it was Kai again, this time taking the shot herself, but as seemed to be the theme of the night, the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar. “[Her] coming off the bench I know especially just lifts the entire team” O’Reilly said of Kai after the match. “Whether I start or if I come off the bench I know that whatever my role is I’m gonna do it. The team comes before me. If I play ten minutes I’m gonna come in and play the best ten minutes I can possibly give and do whatever I can do to help the team” said Kai.

The next few minutes were a back and forth, first with a defensive miscue leaving Cheney wide open in the box in the 52nd. Sky Blue defender Brittany Taylor won this battle of the rookies, doing well to clear the ball away from danger. In the 56th it was Kai again. The Hawaii native won a header and flicked the ball forward before sprinting to catch up to her own pass. Kai found White who fed a ball towards the middle and Yael Averbuch. Averbuch’s shot? Over the bar.

In the 71st minute Sky Blue’s defense seemed to break down. A scramble in the box nearly led to a the go-ahead goal for the Breakers, but Sky Blue’s back four of Meghan Schnur, Taylor, Koster and India Trotter worked to eventually clear the ball away. The combination of Taylor and Koster in the center of Sky Blue’s defense shut down another attack from Smith in the 75th minute.

As time ticked down most of the attack seemed to be coming from the Breakers. The Sky Blue defense was able to hold on and a save from Bardsley in final minute kept the clean sheet. “Daphne was very solid, Brittany was very solid, Schnur played very well. I think she ran out of gas a little bit in the end” said Miettinen of today’s edition of Sky Blue’s ever evolving back line. The scoreless draw was good for Bardsley’s league leading 4th shutout of the season and her five saves brought her season total to a league-high 46 stops. It was the second shutout for Phillips, the other coming from a 0-0 game against the Washington Freedom.

Sky Blue players came away from the game disappointed but hopeful. “You’re bummed about the missed chances, but you’re also excited for what it means for the future” said O’Reilly. Kai expressed a similar sentiment, “It was a back and forth game. A lot of offense. A lot of defense. There was a lot of holes and seams that we saw through their defense. We had our chances. Real real good chances. They had their chances. The goalkeepers came up big, our defense came up big. For us we just need to finish. You’re only gonna get one or two chances and those one of two chances you have to put the ball in the back of the net and we didn’t get that done today. But the result was something to work on for next week.”

Coaches for both teams felt their respective sides were better on the night but agreed on the disappointment. “We had ’em. We didn’t put them away and you know, one point, I think it’s a little bit disappointing” said Sky Blue’s Pauliina Miettinen. Boston head coach Tony DiCicco made a similar argument for his team “I’m disappointed that we’re not scoring goals. I think either team could’ve won but I think we were the dominant team…I’m very very proud of the way the team played. From a soccer standpoint we did so much right. But this game is about sticking the ball in the back of the net and so we’re frustrated.”

FUN FACTS

When the league officially announced on Thursday that financial troubles had forced St. Louis Athletica to close up shop and join the Los Angeles Sol in the category of “Former WPS Teams,” Sky Blue FC earned a dubious distinction: being the last team that both the Los Angeles Sol and St. Louis Athletica ever played (Sky Blue beat LA in the 2009 WPS final in August, the Sol folded the following January; Sky Blue and Athletica played to a 2-2 result two weeks ago, Athletica folded 11 days later)… Boston is the only WPS team still unbeaten on the road in 2010, with a 1-0-3 record playing in places that aren’t called “Harvard Stadium”… The Breakers have not won a game in more than a month, with their first (and only) win of the season coming on April 10th, a 2-1 victory over the Washington Freedom to open the season… India Trotter made her second start, and third appearance, for Sky Blue since being acquired from St. Louis… Sky Blue defender Christie Rampone was available for the first time this season, but did not play “We trust that back line now…If something happened she would’ve been ready to go in but, we still have so many games left that we don’t want to risk her” said Miettinen after the match about Rampone… Keeley Dowling did not play for the first time this season, and for just the second time in her career… Tasha Kai was not the only Sky Blue player to return to the field tonight; Meghan Schnur made just her third appearance of the season and played all 90 minutes after returning from a knee injury. In 2009 Schnur was the only Sky Blue FC player to start and play all 20 regular season games… Former Sky Blue (and Athletica) forward Sarah Walsh was not available for Boston. Walsh is away on national team duty with Australia… The tie puts Sky Blue at 3-0-2 all-time against Boston.

MATCH FACTS

Sky Blue FC (3-2-2) vs. Boston Breakers (1-2-4)
Saturday, May 29, 2010 β€” Yurcak Field
Attendance: 3418

SCORING SUMMARY:
None

LINEUPS:

SKY BLUE FC β€” Karen Bardsley, India Trotter, Daphne Koster, Brittany Taylor, Meghan Schnur, Laura Kalmari, Yael Averbuch, Rosana (Katie Schoepfer, 85′), Kacey White (Jessica Landstrom, 72′), Kiersten Dallstream (Tasha Kai, 47′), Heather O’Reilly

Substitutes Not Used: Kristin Luckenbill, Christie Rampone, Keeley Dowling, Danielle Johnson

BOSTON BREAKERS β€” Ashley Phillips, Alex Scott, Amy LePeilbet, Kasey Moore, Stephanie Cox, Leslie Osborne, Tiffany Weimer (Fabiana, 64′), Laura del Rio (Jordan Angeli, 83′), Kristine Lilly (Liz Bogus, 88′), Kelly Smith, Lauren Cheney

Substitutes Not Used: Chioma Igwe, Alyssa Naeher

TEAM STATS:

NJ BOS

Shots 14 23
Shots on Goal 1 10
Fouls 6 3
Offsides 5 4
Corner Kicks 4 7
Saves 5 1

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:
none

OFFICIALS:

Referee: Donald Dellavia
Referee Assistants: Debbie Coleman, Mark Allatin
4th Official: Dario Urrutia

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