"Game of two halves. There was a big difference in the second half," said Coach Tom Durkin.
Indeed, the Breakers came out slowly in the first half, only to quickly concede a goal to Sky Blue from Katy Freels in the 8'. Freels had lots of room to maneuver and took a shot from distance, sinking it into the back of the net. "I saw the back line was dropping so I just took a shot," said Freels. "I was just concentrating on hitting the frame and luckily it went in." Freels is now responsible for 60% of Sky Blue's goals this season.
Taylor Lytle and Maya Hayes created a lot of pressure on the right and Nadia Nadim had a goal disallowed in the 22' that could further taken the wind out of Boston's sails. As the half wore on the Breakers started to move the ball around, looking for the seams in the Sky Blue defense, but the final connection wasn't quite there, and they spent time in their own defensive third reacting instead of playing the ball out and dictating the tempo of the match.
"I think I have to do a better job of staying onside," said McCaffrey of Boston not finding its runners. "It's not the first time this has happened where I ran offside and I took away an opportunity. I think it's more that we have to get the timing down. It's not so much technique I would say, as I have to hold my run more."
The Breakers were better in the second half, creating early pressure through Rafina, McCaffrey, and Morgan Marlborough. Still, chances slipped through their fingers, including a golden opportunity for Marlborough in the 60' when she was one-on-one with goalkeeper Brittany Cameron. Cameron stuffed her shot, but McCaffrey made up for it not a minute later with a beautiful half volley.
McCaffrey was quick to praise defender Kassey Kallman for creating the opportunity. "It was a really good for Kassey to get up that high and not foul. I thought it was a great 50/50 challenge. She did the hard part. Like most people would have fallen into the goalie or not gotten high enough. That was the second of two challenges and it just fell right to me. I kind of got lucky."
The two teams struggled after that, with both coaches making late subs to try to put the spark back into their sides. Bia finally returned to action with a few minutes, but both she and Rafinha will be missing from the lineup next weekend as they have been called up by the Brazil national team to join their pre-World Cup camp. This is obviously counter to Durkin's original reason for signing both players, which was to have a cohesive team that would not be disrupted by World Cup callups. Lauren Lazo will also be absent in order to attend her graduation from Princeton.
"So this is how it goes," Durkin said, reflecting on the team's progress. "We struggle defending, so we worked and shored up the defending. Then we couldn't move the ball, so we now can move the ball. We couldn't get out of the back, now we're out of the back. And the last game, you know, we played some good stuff, but we didn't really hold the ball in the other team's half. Tonight we held the ball in the other team's half. And now we need to work on penetrating."
Sky Blue coach Jim Gabarra was less reflective and more disappointed to have dropped points. "We should have capitalized on a lot more scoring chances than we did," he said. "That's kind of been the recurring theme with this group through the first part of season so far. At some point it comes back to bite you. You make a mistake or two and you're giving away points, and this was a must-three-points for us. I think the last two games we've played, for the most part we've played well enough to get three points out of each game and come out of it with one point. It's just not good enough."
The Breakers next face reigning league champions FC Kansas City, Kristie Mewis' former side. "I mean, it'll be fun I guess," Mewis said, laughing. "I know a lot of the girls. They're a great team. I can't wait to beat them though, that's the most important thing."