April 17, 2011

Flash Win Opener 2-1 Over Breakers

The new kids in town served notice that they are going to be a tough bunch to deal with, even without their top gun. Western New York opened its history with a strong 2-1 victory over the Boston Breakers on Sunday evening in Cambridge.

In what was a fast-paced match from the outset, it was an impressive piece of soccer put on by the Flash. It's not even like Boston played a bad game, because they really didn't. It was just a night where the Flash had too much energy to overcome and all of this without Marta.

The first half of the contest was scoreless, but in spite of the lack of goals and scoring chances, it was certainly not without exciting action. Play seemed to go from end to end in the early going, with the match being fairly even.

Boston escaped a few close calls in the opening half, the first coming in the 5th minute. Christine Sinclair fed a beautiful pass to Caroline Seger, who tapped the ball past Breakers' keeper Alyssa Naeher. Stephanie Cox was able to clear the ball just inches off of the line.

Later, in the 31st minute, it was the Flash again nearly scoring. Becky Edwards sent an inswinging corner from the left side. Brittany Bock skied to head the ball from a seemingly impossible angle on the far side of the net. The header went off and through Naeher's hands toward the center of the goal where Alex Scott headed it off the line to save a goal.

Perhaps the best Boston opportunity of the half came very early with Kelly Smith sending Kelley O'Hara through with a nice pass, but O'Hara's shot from a steep angle only hit the outside of the net.

The halftime break did nothing to slow down the Flash as they came out attacking in the 2nd half. The Breakers dodged yet another bullet in the 56th minute as Naeher came well out of the box in an attempt to clear a Sinclair pass. Alex Morgan was able to touch it past Naeher and had the open net 25 yards in front of her, but her shot sailed well wide of the net.

Throughout the match, it appeared that Western New York was able to find a little more space behind the Breakers' midfield to set up their attack. It finally paid off in the 66th minute.

The Flash gained possession at the center circle and Whitney Engen sent a long ball forward. Alex Morgan was able to run onto it and outmuscle Rachel Buehler for the ball. Morgan drove deep into the right side of the penalty area and slipped a nice pass back to the center where Sinclair was cutting in front of Amy LePeilbet. Sinclair got a step around LePeilbet and slid a low shot into the lower left to make it 1-0.

Boston tried to press the attack for the equalizer, but for the most part, the Flash defense were sturdy in disrupting every attempt. The closest the Breakers came was in the 82nd minute, when O'Hara cut back to the inside on former Stanford teammate Ali Riley and ripped a shot from 15 yards out, but Candace Chapman headed the ball away before the ball reached Flash goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

The Flash stretched their lead to two as second half substitution Gemma Davison made a run from 40 yards out, raced straight past Breaker defender Ifeoma Dieke and struck a shot into the lower left corner of the net in the 90th minute.

Just when it appeared the game was over, Boston cut the lead in half. Nearly two minutes into stoppage, Lauren Cheney blasted a shot from the left edge of the box, which rattled off the bottom of the crossbar straight to Kelly Smith who head tapped it in from just inches in front of the goal.

Unfortunately for the Breakers, only seconds were remaining and they were not able to get the ball into the attacking half after that.

Boston falls to 1-1, while Western New York is 1-0. Boston travels to Florida to take on magicJack next Saturday. Western New York heads to Atlanta to take on the Beat next Sunday.

WPS Standings after Week 2
Western New York 1-0-0, 3 pts.
Boston 1-1-0, 3 pts.
Atlanta 1-1-0, 3 pts.
Philadelphia 0-0-1, 1 pt.
Sky Blue FC 0-1-1, 1 pt.
magicJack 0-0-0, 0 pts.