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Breakers 2-3 Washington Spirit: Nairn, Taylor Erase Early Defecit, Take Down Breakers

A familiar story transpired in Boston, when the Breakers failed to capitalize on a pair of early goals from midfielder Lianne Sanderson. In the end, Washington's attack proved far too strong, as the Spirit put away the inconsistent home side, 3-2.

Diana Matheson and forward Jodie Taylor hooked up for a brilliant goal in the second half.
Diana Matheson and forward Jodie Taylor hooked up for a brilliant goal in the second half.
Paul Frederiksen-USA TODAY Sport

After scoring a pair of first-half goals--and out-shooting, out-hustling and out-performing the visiting Spirit--the Breakers appeared destined for a second consecutive victory. Unfortunately, a pair of second-half goals doomed the home side,  concluding a wildly disappointing five-game homestand.

From the opening moments of Sunday's late-spring matchup, the Breakers controlled the momentum, dominating the match's early opportunities. In the 9th minute, forward Lianne Sanderson played a superb ball over the top to U.S. International Heather O'Reilly, who took a patient touch to her left before firing a shot off Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. Boston forward Lisa De Vanna attempted to finish the rebound with a one-time shot on frame, but her attempt sailed over the unattended net. Three minutes later, Sanderson played De Vanna beyond Washington's back line and into space, though De Vanna's left-footed shot  found the chest of the visiting 'keeper.

In the 16th minute, O'Reilly received another on-point, over-the-top through ball, this time from up-and-coming midfielder Kristie Mewis. The veteran once again took the patient approach, however, taking a few soft touches before stinging a shot into Harris' waiting arms.

Thirteen minutes later, the Breakers finally found a capable finisher. With the ball at her feet, Mewis darted into the left side of the box, stood strong in traffic, and slotted a precise square ball to Sanderson. The English International turned, faced goal, and tucked a brilliant finish past Harris for the 1-0 advantage.

Washington failed to let the early goal serve as a permanent fixture, however, scoring the equalizer in the 33rd minute. After a hand ball by captain Cat Whitehill resulted in a free kick from just outside the box, Spirit midfielder Christine Nairn stood over the ball and eyed Boston's five-woman wall. She ripped her shot through the left side of the wall and beat Naeher to her right, catching the 'keeper after a delayed read.

Not to be outdone, the Breakers pulled one back in the 37th minute, when De Vanna tip-toed the sideline and played a well-timed pass onto Sanderson's foot. She took a touch and, from just outside the 18, slotted a perfectly-placed shot past Harris and into the back of the net.

After controlling the run of play for the match's first 45 minutes, the Breakers entered the half with a 2-1 advantage.

But in Boston, the opening moments of the second frame served as the opening moments of the Breakers downfall. In the 48th minute, off a Spirit throw-in, midfielder Diana Matheson picked up her head, found forward Jodie Taylor in front of goal, and led the England native into a crafty flick past Naeher. The ensuing 25 minutes followed suit, with Washington controlling the attacking pace while quieting Sanderson and her attacking 'mates.

In the 73rd minute, the Breakers nearly combined for a go-ahead goal, when a deep free kick from Sanderson found Cat Whitehill with space inside the box. Although her header found the back of the net, the center official disallowed the goal due to a delayed offside call. The Spirit used the ensuing trip down the field to put away the Breakers for good.

On the other side of the ball, Whitehill and midfielder Joanna Lohman found themselves in an awkward position, both vying for a loose ball in the back. Lohman took the initial touch, though Taylor raced past her, went one v one on Naeher, and calmly lofted the game-winner over the charging goalkeeper.

In the waning moments, Lohman attempted to rectify her giveaway, first firing just high and then firing just wide. But in the end, the Breakers offense failed to make up for a trio of defensive miscues, sending the club to their seventh loss in nine matches.

Next Week

On Saturday, the Breakers will hit the road to visit FC Kansas City for a weekend rematch. Match kicks off at 7:00 PM.