A goal in the 89th minute by Australian striker Kyah Simon, her Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Elite League leading 10th of the season, gave Boston Breakers a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars Saturday night at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville. The win, in front a sellout crowd of 2,092, puts the Breakers into a first-place tie with Chicago.
The first time these teams met, back on June 3, Chicago handed Boston its first loss of the season, a 1-0 defeat in Illinois. The focus Saturday wasn’t as much getting back into first place as it was to even the season series with the Red Stars.
"They were more focused on the fact that Chicago had beaten us and was our only loss, and they wanted to get even on the year," Boston Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole said. "We knew they were going to be able to match us a little bit with their heading presence, and we also knew they’d be a physical team, so we talked about that. But we’ve been trying to focus on our game and how we can play better. Today, I felt they took us out of our rhythm, out of what we wanted to do, at least in the first half."
But one minor change proved to make a major difference for Boston as Courtney Jones came on as a late sub and was the one who set up Simon’s game-winner. Jones took the ball down the left and into the corner before sending it over to Katie Schoepfer, who dummied the ball to Simon. Slipping as she came into the 6-yard box, Simon managed to get a foot on the ball and knock it past Chicago keeper Jamie Forbes.
"I think we definitely needed her out there and definitely at the right time. She made a huge impact on the game," Simon said of Jones. "Her pace, agility, and ability to play balls in was amazing and exactly what we needed. We needed that boost and that injection of pace up there, and she did it to a T, and to her credit, she was the main factor in our goal."
Jones, a defender with Boston this season, played four years as a forward at the University of North Carolina, tallying 36 goals and 32 assists. She came in at the 71st minute Saturday for Jess Luscinski and gave the Breakers a speedy presence outside. Five minutes before setting up the game-winning goal, Jones belted a shot from 20 yards out that sailed just a bit to the right of goal.
"I told Courtney to be ready to be someone that can go in on the wing," Cole said. "She’s been getting a lot of assists and been able to get our offense started for us in other games, so I felt like she’d be a good option for us off the bench."
It was a sluggish start for both sides in the 95-degree heat as neither team could establish a rhythm in the first half, although they did have a couple chances. Chicago's Michele Weissenhofer buzzed down the right side of the field before hitting a shot from 20 yards out that went just past the near post. Lauren Fowlkes had Chicago's first shot on goal. It came in the 7th minute, but it was punched out by Boston goalkeeper Alice Binns. The Breakers got their first shot on goal two minutes later when Simon tested Forbes, bending a shot from 18 yards out, but the Chicago keeper came up with the stop.
Julianne Sitch had a great attempt for the visitors when she fought hard through the midfield, took it outside and put a shot on frame, but it wasn't too much for Binns to handle. Minutes before the first half closed, Chicago captain Lori Chalupny hit a screamer just over the bar from 25 yards out off a free kick.
The Breakers came out with a bit more pace and possession in the second half, and they went right at Chicago's defense. At the 51st minute, Luscinski's strike from distance made Forbes work to make the save, tipping it out of play. Chicago's two best chances in the second half came in the 65th and 68th minutes, the latter a hard crack from Ella Masar that skimmed the crossbar from 20 yards out. Three minutes before Masar's attempt, Fowlkes put one on frame 25 yards from goal, but Binns made a great grab to keep the game scoreless.
In the end, it was Boston that came away with the three points, getting the late goal by Simon, who has now scored in four straight games and has seven goals during that span.
"We opened up a few more opportunities in the second half. I think our runs up front were more direct and more helpful for our midfielders to play in those balls," Simon said. "We definitely created more opportunities in the second half. We played a bit better football as well."
The Breakers are back in action Friday, July 6, taking on ASA Chesapeake Charge at Dilboy Stadium. It'll be a special night in Somerville, Heather O'Reilly's sendoff game before she and the U.S. Women's National Team head over to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Next up for Chicago will be a home match against the winless Philadelphia Fever on Saturday, July 7.
Shots: Boston 11, Chicago 8
Shots on goal: Boston 7, Chicago 3
Saves: Chicago: Forbes (6); Boston: Binns (3)
Fouls: Chicago 17, Boston 8
Corners: Boston 5, Chicago 3
Offsides: Chicago 4, Boston 2
BOS: Kyah Simon (Katie Schoepfer) 89’
Boston: Alice Binns, Cat Whitehill, Taryn Hemmings, Elli Reed, Julie King, Leslie Osborne, Bianca D’Agostino, Amanda DaCosta, Jess Luscinski (Courtney Jones, 71’), Katie Schoepfer, Kyah Simon
Subs not used: Veronica Napoli, Katherine Donnelly, Furtuna Velaj, Kate Incerto, Emma Thomson, Alejandra Velasco
Red Stars: Jamie Forbes, Lauren Alkek, Sammy Scofield, Julianne Sitch, Shayla Mutz (Ella Masar, 46’), Lauren Fowlkes, Lori Chalupny, Jen Buczkowski, Ashlee Elliott, Michelle Wenino, Michele Weissenhofer
Subs not used: Ali Heller, Nicole Lipp, Kelsey Devonshire
Notes: Breakers keeper Alice Binns now has five shutouts on the season, which ties her with Chicago's Jamie Forbes for first in WPSL Elite. Binns has only allowed five goals in 10 games, tops in the league. She has gone 211 minutes without allowing a goal. Binns, captain and midfielder Leslie Osborne, and defenders Cat Whitehill and Taryn Hemmings have now played every minute of every game this season, each logging 900 minutes on the season. With her 10 goals and two assists, Kyah Simon leads the league in points (22), while Katie Schoepfer now has 17 points (6 goals, 5 assists), which ranks her third in the league, behind Simon and Western New York Flash's Adriana. The Breakers passed the 11,000 mark on attendance for the season, recording their fifth straight sellout. The total attendance for the season at home is 11,010.
Photo Credit: Linehan Photography for Boston Breakers
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