The story has become all-too-familiar for Breakers supporters: ample chances, few goals, a disappointing result. In Wednesday's match against 0-9-2 Seattle Reign FC, opposing midfielder Christine Nairn made sure the plot continued, netting an 86th minute game winner past Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The 2-1 loss extended the Breakers winless streak to five matches, capping a disappointing June campaign.
From the opening minutes, the Breakers took charge, controlling possession while creating a flurry of chances. In the 19th minute, Breakers forward Sydney Leroux played a one-time heel flick to U.S. International Heather O'Reilly, who's strike forced Seattle goalkeeper Hope Solo into diving save to her left. For the ensuing 26 minutes, Leroux and O'Reilly led the way, creating a number of opportunities while failing to break Solo.
On the opposite end of the field, Naeher worked to match her U.S. International counterpart, cutting down a one-on-one opportunity against Seattle forward Liz Bogus. Though Bogus - and recently added midfielder Megan Rapinoe - created several chances of their own, the Breakers seemed poised to strike first.
Less than a full minute into the second half, O'Reilly nearly broke the stalemate, taking a touch beyond Solo before shooting on frame. Though stuck in "no-man's land," Solo recovered, deflected the shot off the near post, and smothered the rebound.
The Breakers finally broke though in the 51st minute. After rising above a heavily-populated six-yard box, midfielder Mariah Nogueira tucked an O'Reilly corner kick inside the near post, converting one of several strong set pieces by the Breakers front line.
For the next 27 minutes, the teams would trade quality opportunities, highlighted by a strong one-on-one save by Naeher at the top of the 18-yard box. Moments later, Solo made a noteworthy save of her own, diving to stop a well-received individual effort from Kyah Simon. Naeher, not to be outdone, followed with two highlight-reel stops, one to fend off an open goal after a poor clearance and another to deflect a well-paced 35-yard strike from Rapinoe.
In the 76th minute, however, Naeher made her first mistake, coughing up a deep free kick attempt from Rapinoe. The well paced strike deflected off Naeher, only to be deposited by Seattle midfielder Jessica Fishlock.
Just minutes later, with momentum mounting, Rapinoe nearly converted the game winner, sending a 28-yard shot off the connecting pipes. An 86th minute counter attack would suffice for Rapinoe's crew, as Nairn collected a pass from Bogus and beat Naeher with an upper-90 near post strike.
In the final moments, the Breakers fought to equalize, sending a pair of close-range headers wide before watching Solo tip a stinging free kick from Breakers' captain Cat Whitehill over the crossbar.
Though Naeher kept it close, the Breakers exited with with familiar disappointment. The team undoubtedly strung together enough opportunities to leave Wednesday's match with at least three goals, though they came away with just one - a total that eventually doomed the reeling Boston side.
After leaving countless first-half opportunities on the table, Breakers forward Katie Schoepfer commented on Nogueira's 51st minute goal, saying, "anytime you score a goal you can take a deep breath...we were pretty confident going into that last bit." Schoepfer continued by reflecting on Seattle's quick turnaround and the disappointment that ensued. "It seems like we've been getting that bad break all season, where we've been knocking on the door and then they get two chances and score both of them...but we don't have time to sit here and dwell on this...we'll get together as a team and get back at it on Sunday."
Captain Cat Whitehill, refusing to give into the "missed opportunities theory," turned the conversation toward a lack of chemistry on the back line. "The most difficult part is that we have yet to play two straight games with the same back four...there are times when were on different pages. That's why they got two goals, and that's why we lost the game." Whitehill concluded by lifting up the players in front of her, stating "We have this prolific attack with so many great players up there. Hope Solo is a great goalkeeper, and we just weren't able to get one by her."
Solo added her own comments, praising the addition of Megan Rapinoe while drawing attention to a season-long period of growth. "Megan is a special player...but even before she got here, we were starting to play well together. It's actually good soccer." Asked about her game-saving stop against O'Reilly, Solo laughed before joking, "Did I really try to go on a foot race with Heather O'Reilly? I think I did for second."
Discouraged but still confident, Schoepfer added a final piece of optimism. "We are stronger than this. We will bounce back, much like we've bounced back all season."
On Sunday, the Breakers will welcome the return of Sky Blue FC, hoping to avenge a 3-2 loss from June 16. Kickoff will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Dilboy Stadium. For tickets, visit breakerstickets.com.