After a 2nd minute defensive collapse led Washington to claim an early 1-0 lead, the Breakers responded with a goal of their own, jumpstarting a goal-heavy victory in the nation's capital.
The Spirit, who entered Saturday's match with the least productive offense in women's soccer, wasted no time shrugging off a history of inefficiency. Less than 90 seconds after kickoff, Spirit midfielder Diana Matheson collected a through ball in space, took a touch inside the 18, and beat Boston goalkeeper Ashley Phillips one-on-one.
Refusing to allow the early goal to dictate Saturday's tempo, the Breakers answered, scoring a 5th minute equalizer off the head of midfielder Mariah Nogueira. With a pair of defenders in front of her, Nogueira patiently followed a deep corner from midfielder Heather O'Reilly, nodding the pass into the net with ease.
In the 26th minute, the Breakers nearly broke the deadlock, when U.S. International Sydney Leroux danced through a series of defenders and created a dangerous one-on-one opportunity. Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris made a quick reaction save to preserve the tie.
After a series of half-chances went begging, the Breakers jumped in front for good, using a 43rd minute goal from forward Lianne Sanderson to take a 2-1 lead. Sanderson, positioned just in front of Harris' near post, finished a point-blank header from defender Rhian Wilkinson, enabling the Breakers to enter the half with a one-goal advantage.
In the second 45, Boston found immediate space in the attacking third. A deep, right-side run by Heather O'Reilly resulted in a well-hit strike by Breakers' midfielder Joanna Lohman, one that Harris stopped but did not cover. Wilkinson calmly finished the stray shot.
After doubling their lead just minutes into the second half, the Breakers continued to push forward, finding the offensive prowess they missed over the previous two matches. In the 56th minute, Lohman attempted to settle a cross on the right side of the box, only to hit the ground after an assertive foul. The center official immediately pointed to the spot. With composure, O'Reilly tucked her penalty inside the post, sending Harris stumbling in the opposite direction.
Down 4-1 and in need of a trio of goals, Washington forward Conny Pohlers pulled one back, finishing a 73rd minute header that beat Phillips to her left.
Not to be outdone, the Breakers found the net once more. After a broken corner kick, captain Cat Whitehill tracked a loose deflection in the box, freezing Harris on a near-post finish.
Now within four points of fourth-place Western New York, the Breakers will look to build upon Saturday's complete performance. Continued combination play by O'Reilly and Sanderson - combined with consistent buildup by Lohman - may provide enough steam for Boston to threaten the table's top teams during a final playoff push.
On Saturday, the Breakers will welcome Western New York; match kicks off at 6:00 p.m.