The Boston Breakers kept their unbeaten streak at home alive with a 1-0 win over FC Kansas City.
The first 30 minutes were fast, with the Breakers pressing hard and getting enough shots on goal to give FCKC GK Nicole Barnhart a decent workout. Barnhart was solid, keeping the scoreline even throughout the first half. On the other end of the field, Boston GK Jami Kranich was called upon to collect the ball several times but didn't have to make big stops.
Julie King and Kassey Kallman stayed strong, keeping the center under control as well as making their own attacking runs. Kallman in particular made a strong case for FCKC to regret trading her before the season began as she held the line while making regular forays deep into Kansas City's defensive third. Coach Tom Durkin was highly complimentary of his team's defensive effort. "The central defenders and the two holding midfielders, they had a yeoman effort," he said. "That's Katie Schoepfer's best game by a long shot. Kassey and Julie were fantastic and Amy [Barczuk] was no slouch."
On the attacking end, Kristie Mewis and Stephanie McCaffrey generated incredible amounts of attacking pressure, allowing the offense to penetrate FCKC's defense with through balls and runs, although sometimes chances went begging as they looked to provide service but had no help arriving or in position. "It's good to know when you look up that she's always an option for me," said Mewis of her strike partnership with McCaffrey, "But I think there's still more to come with us. We're still kind of getting our groove together and working things out. I think tonight was probably our best performance together."
Maddy Evans made a particularly great run in the 22' with McCaffrey finding her free inside the box. Evans shot it just wide, but the sequence was demonstrative of Boston's offensive effort as a whole. "The pressing was good," said Durkin. "The passing sequence was good. We really worked a lot on penetrating so we penetrated way more than we had in the last game."
Kristie Mewis scored the gamewinner in the 51' when Schoepfer made a good step to Erika Tymrak to regain possession of the ball and found Mewis with a pass at the top of the 18. "I kind of noticed that I was wide open so I just kind of yelled for the ball and she saw me," said Mewis. "Made a great kind of a square pass. I mean, no one was on me, I was able to turn and take a look up and I saw that Barnie was cheating a little bit one way and I just kind of took a nice hard shot."
It was only until the last fifteen minutes of the game that the Breakers started repeatedly launching long balls for subs Nkem Ezurike and Chanel Johnson. Said Durkin, "We wanted to just play direct to the strikers towards the end to take a little bit of pressure off us as they pushed players forward. We were positive they were going to do that. "
FCKC threatened at times with Sarah Hagen and rookie Shea Groom slipping through the back line from time to time, but goalkeeper Jami Kranich was more than up to the task. Kranich made several key saves to keep a clean sheet and preserve Boston's win, including denying Liz Bogus in a one-on-one in the 59', then running off her line to slide into an even bigger save a minute later.
The Breakers next face the Washington Spirit on the road. Durkin and Mewis were both already looking ahead after the game. "We have to now take a step up and learn how to get wins on the road," said Mewis. "I think we've kind of locked it down here and we know how to play at our own stadium and we know the other team's tendencies when they come here, so I think it's just now about kind of maturing as a team and being able to win on the road."
"We're going to Washington to win the game," said Durkin. "It's a nice grass field, it's a nice place to play, but we're going there after all three points without a doubt. We want to win a game on the road."
Boston improves to 3-3-1 and moves up to third in the league rankings.
BOS: Jami Kranich, Rachel Wood, Julie King (C), Kassey Kallman (C), Mollie Pathman, Amy Barczuk, Katie Schoepfer (C), Kristie Mewis, Maddy Evans (Stephanie Verdoia, 80), Stephanie McCaffrey (Chanel Johnson, 76), Morgan Marlborough (Nkem Ezurike, 72)
Subs not used: Che Brown, Sam Lofton, Suzane Pires
FCKC: Nicole Barnhart, Amy LePeilbet, Jen Buczkowski, Leigh Ann Robinson, Becca Moros (Meghan Lisenby, 87), Yael Averbuch, Shea Groom, Sarah Hagen, Liz Bogus, Mandy Laddish (Caroline Kastor, 67), Erika Tymrak
Subs not used: Katelyn Rowland, Kaysie Clark, Domi Richardson