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Breakers 3-2 Sky Blue FC: Sanderson, King Guide Breakers to First Victory

Lianne Sanderson and Julie King combined for three goals and two assists, guiding the Breakers to a much-needed 3-2 victory.

Sanderson shined on Sunday, recording two goals and one assist during her team's 3-2 win.
Sanderson shined on Sunday, recording two goals and one assist during her team's 3-2 win.
USA TODAY Sports

In dire need of a win, Lianne Sanderson, Julie King, and the new-look Breakers scored a trio of goals, downing rival Sky Blue F.C., 3-2. The win marked a highly anticipated first NWSL victory for Head Coach Tom Durkin.

For the second week in a row, the Breakers struck first, earning a 14th minute tally from an unlikely goal-scoring candidate. After receiving a deflected corner from rookie Mollie Pathman, Lianne Sanderson ripped a shot from just outside the 18. The strike, which appeared to be traveling wide, found defender Julie King, who deftly redirected the shot into the far post. The goal represented King's first NWSL tally.

Moments later, Sanderson caused a turnover in the attacking third. Her deflection found Lisa De Vanna in space, who quickly entered the box one v. one with Sky Blue goalkeeper Jill Loyden. A creative chip from De Vanna soared just wide.

De Vanna ran onto the end of another promising opportunity in the 27th minute, this time following a through ball from U.S. International Heather O'Reilly. De Vanna stung a shot just wide, though her attacking presence in the first frame caused continual trouble for Sky Blue's back line.

In the 30th minute, Sky Blue equalized, finding the back of the net after a quiet half hour of play. On the counter attack, midfielder Taylor Lytle found Monica Ocampo over the top. Ocampo slipped a shot past Naeher and--despite an inspired effort from defender Ashley Grove, who started in place of Courtney Jones--the slow-rolling shot crossed the goal line, forcing a 1-1 draw.

For Sky Blue, however, the equalizer would not hold. In the 43rd minute, King played a soft, over-the-top ball to Sanderson. The perfectly-weighted pass dropped into the 18 and found the charging midfielder, who ripped an emphatic volley into the far post.

Following a near-flawless performance from attackers Sanderson, O'Reilly and De Vanna--and defender King--the Breakers entered the break with a 2-1 advantage.

In the second frame, the Breakers inserted Jones into her natural attacking position, spelling Pathman after 45 minutes of play. Jones had previously struggled in an unfaimilar center back position; her return to the midfield bodes well for her early-season contributions.

In the 50th minute, De Vanna found herself on the end of yet another opportunity. After beating her defender down the left flank, and taking a touch past a sprawling Loyden, De Vanna ripped a shot from just inside the touchline. Her miracle attempt struck the near post and deflected back into play.

Eleven minutes later, the Breakers added a third tally. With space on the left side of the field, midfielder Chelsea Stewart sprayed a ball into the box, which Sky Blue deflected out of the 18. The clearance fell to Sanderson, who took a touch, stung a shot onto the far post, beat Loyden to her right and extended the Breakers lead.

For the ensuing 30 minutes, Sky Blue pressured Boston's back line, though assertive defending and strong goalkeeping worked to maintain the two-goal edge. In the 86th minute, Breakers' rookie and first-round draft pick Nkem Ezurike made her NWSL debut, replacing De Vanna after her strongest performance to date.

In injury time, Sky Blue forward Sophie Schmidt nearly cut Boston's lead in half. After gathering a loose ball on the right side of the box, Schmidt ripped a one v. one shot over the cross bar. Two minutes later, a corner from Sky Blue midfielder Katy Freels found unmarked midfielder Ashley Nick, who headed a soft into the near post and past Naeher.

In the end, Nick's goal served as nothing more than a last-ditch effort, a momentary lapse in an otherwise complete performance by Durkin's crew. The Breakers 180-degree turnaround provided a glimpse of this team's potential: quick-yet-physical defending, creative build-up, and a combination of attackers who can score from anywhere on the pitch.

Next Week

The Breakers will square off with Sky Blue F.C. once more, this time from Yurack Field in Piscataway, N.J. Match kicks off on Saturday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m.