Despite failing to qualify for the 2013 NWSL Playoffs, the Breakers entered their final weekend with plenty of motivation: to extend interim coach Cat Whitehill's unbeaten streak, to avenge a frustrating 2-2 draw and, most importantly, to deny Western New York the top playoff seed. On Saturday, two Flash goals quickly scattered this dream, forcing Boston to play from behind and settle for a disappointing 2-1 defeat.
From the opening moments, Abby Wambach's crew seemed poised to take an early lead. In the 8th minute, Wambach swung a cross onto the head of Katherine Reynolds, who lofted a shot on goal. Breakers defender Julie King raced to track down the attempt, leapt to head the shot off the line, and momentarily preserved the 0-0 draw.
In the 23rd minute, Western New York again pushed through, this time breaking Boston's back line to earn a 1-0 advantage. Wambach slotted a pass to fellow frontrunner Samantha Kerr, who buried a volley past Boston goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Just three minutes later, the Flash struck a second time, using a Wambach header to double their first-half lead.
The Breakers introduced the second half with inspired attacking tempo, sending forward Sydney Leroux one-on-one with Flash goalkeeper Adrianna Franch in the 48th minute. With time, Leroux attempted to slot a patient shot past Franch, only to have her shot parried wide.
Moments later, the visitors cut into Western New York's lead, providing room for a late-match equalizer. Boston forward Lianne Sanderson arrived on the end of a 53rd minute corner kick from Heather O'Reilly, only to have her header blocked in front. Defender/midfielder Rhian Wilkinson then directed a second header on frame. Franch worked to make a strong initial save, though Wilkinson followed her shot and finished the rebound, putting Boston on the board with an early second-half tally.
Frantic for an equalizer, the Breakers nearly spoiled the comeback attempt with a 65th minute foul in the box. Flash forward Abby Wambach approached the ensuing penalty with poise, though Naeher proved up to the task; the goalkeeper made a sprawling save to deny Western New York a third goal.
In the 90th minute, with a final chance to draw level, Sanderson curled a free kick on frame, only to watch her attempt strike the crossbar. Despite the loss, the Breakers earned full control of the fifth spot on the NWSL table, sending interim coach Cat Whitehill into the off-season with a 2-1-1 record.
Stay tuned for a Breakers full-season recap.