When teams are eliminated from playoff contention, many times what’s left for them to do is act as a spoiler for other teams. That’s the position the Boston Breakers find themselves in now, with two games left to play of a four-game series against the WNY Flash and the Flash at #4 on the table and the Seattle Reign four points behind them.
If Boston can limit the Flash’s points and Seattle can keep it together for their last three games, their combined efforts could knock the Flash out of the playoffs. Is this likely to actually happen? Well...
So far against WNY, the Breakres have lost 4-0 and 7-1 so it’s not like they’ve historically done well there. In fact those are two of their three worst losses of the season. At the time, head coach Matt Beard called that 7-1 loss “probably the lowest point in my football career.”
There are a couple of differences between that Breakers team and this one. That Breakers team was still pre-turnaround, still losing, still trying to put any pieces at all together. Now Boston has managed to start consistently scoring, if not to start consistently winning.
That Breakers team also hadn’t yet signed Natasha Dowie and was still working with Mollie Pathman as their starting left back. They also hadn’t yet signed Ghoutia Karchouni, but we’ve yet to really see Karchouni impact a match the way Dowie has.
So the Breakers back line now is fairly different, and will definitely rotate after playing three games in eight days. This marks their fourth game in an 11-day window, going away, home, away, and home again. The Flash are slightly better off with three games in a 12-day window but the Breakers have played a full 90 minutes more than they have in a shorter time span.
Barring any injury, you can probably expect Brooke Elby back in the defense and Julie King possibly moved inside with Whitney Engen. Angela Salem should be back in midfield. Tightening up the defense and making sure no one gets caught forward will be vital against a team that can field players like Lynn Williams and Jess McDonald, both of whom can burn players with speed and quickly get behind a line. Williams and McDonald have combined for 15 goals for the Flash this season, seven of them coming against Boston.
This game could also see a fun battle between the Mewis sisters, as Kristie Mewis has been pushed more central for Boston now that she’s back and fit, and Samantha Mewis will be patrolling that part of the field for WNY. Kristie Mewis taking on more of the attacking load in midfield will help free up Louise Schillgard, who has been setting up a lot movement through her play on the right. It’ll enable the team to switch the point of attack more freely and hopefully keep enough pressure on WNY that the defense doesn’t get overworked and the back line doesn’t resort to too many searching long balls over the top to Dowie. It would also be nice to see Brittany Ratcliffe moving the way she did against FC Kansas City; she helped pull some attention off Dowie and was able to center the ball a bit.
Of note, former Boston Breakers Lianne Sanderson and McCall Zerboni will also be on deck for the Flash. Sanderson can hit it from range as well as look to feed Williams and McDonald and Zerboni will be teaming up with Mewis to control the midfield.
Boston Breakers vs WNY Flash kicks off at 7 PM ET on Wednesday, September 7 at home at Jordan Field. It will stream live on NWSL’s youtube channel.