After failing to earn a victory through the first four matches of a seven-game road trip, the Breakers visited Houston in desperate need of a win. But for the third week in a row, the club spoiled an early lead, falling at the hands of Kealia Oahi and her suddenly-dangerous Houston Dash.
In the early stages, the Breakers and Dash struggled to find feet, as neither club seemed able to maintain possession. But in the fourth minute, the Breakers found their footing, using a counter attack to create the first opportunity of the match. U.S. International Heather O'Reilly--playing in an unfaimialr right back position--led the way, lobbing a daunting ball into the box that caught the run of Katie Schoepfer. The long-term Breaker finished inside the right post, delivering an early road lead.
For the ensuing 35 minutes, Houston wing back Meghan Klingenberg shut down all creativity down the right side while helping her club build out of the back. Klingenberg, who joined the Breakers during January's allocation, and ultimately suited up for the Dash following the 2014 NWSL Expansion Draft, served as the match's pacesetter for much up the first half. But for the second week in a row, the Breakers back line held firm, shutting out Houston through the first 45 minutes of play.
Trailing 1-0 at the half, the Dash entered the second frame with nearly identical pace. Ohai, the second pick in the 2014 NWSL draft, immediately provided the spark Houston fans have long-since anticipated.
In the 56th minute, Ohai broke down the left side, took a touch across the edge of the box, and ripped a shot from 18 yards out. Her curling strike beat the outstretched top arm of Alyssa Naeher, emphatically tying the match, 1-1.
Three minutes later, looking to catch the Dash napping after Ohai's equalizer, Schoepfer received a ball at the 6, turned, and fired a close-range shot wide.
In their ensuing possession, Houston punished the Breakers, finding a 61st minute game-winner. Ohai, who looked dangerous from the 46th minute onward, received a long through ball into space on the left side. The rook' raced into the box, took on an onrushing Naeher, and calmly netted the go-ahead goal inside the far post.
Almost immediately, the Breakers threw numbers forward, looking for a late equalizer. But in the end, Houston developed the best opportunity of the second frame, when Bianca Sierra caught an awkward deflection off her arm. The handball set up Ella Masar from the spot, though once again, Alyssa Naeher stood on her head for her club. Masar struck her penalty to Naeher's right, though Boston's goalkeeper chose the correct side, stunning Masar from 12 yards out.
In the final moments, the Breakers strung together a handful of chances--including a golden opportunity from Jazmine Reeves, who fired a shot off Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod from seven yards out--though Houston stood strong until the final whistle, breaking the hearts of Boston's loyal supporters.
For Tom Durkin's club, the story has become all-too familiar: a strong first frame, followed by a less-than-dominant second frame, leads to a heartbreaking defeat. With an opportunity to move up the table, the Breakers failed to lift up a first-half lead, falling to the eighth-placed Dash, 2-1.
On Sunday, July 20, the Breakers visit Portland for the first of ESPN's live-stream matches. View the match by visiting WatchESPN.com.
Just how stunning was Kealia Oahi's wondergoal? Even a red-hot Alyssa Naeher couldn't keep her strike out of the back of the next.