It was a slightly slow start for Boston as they took on the Washington Spirit in their last away game of the season. Washington initially tried to set a relatively fast pace, although Adriana Leon began to put her stamp on the game in response. Early on she was everywhere underneath the forward line, trying to pick out her teammates or to draw the play wide and send in the cross.
Boston didn’t really establish a rhythm through her, though, and looked a little frantic as they attempted to pick out Natasha Dowie at the tip of the spear. But every ball they tried to shoot forward for Dowie got picked off by the Washington defense, and they were much better served with switching the point of attack, making hard pushes on the flanks, and looking to cut the ball in.
Midge Purce in her right back position was especially hustling, and often was able to eat up almost half the field with a darting run before combining with Leon, and in fact had a good chance in the 32’ when she punched up into the attacking third and dropped the ball off for Leon, who was able to put in a dangerous cross. The ball popped out of the box and Allysha Chapman’s late follow-up went over.
Meanwhile on defense Boston was mostly good about falling back and making sure they didn’t miss anyone on the break, allowing them to defend the ball out as Spirit players ran out of room to run.
Boston almost got their long ball calibrated as Tiffany Weimer dropped a nice diagonal in the 41’, but Natasha Dowie didn’t quite have the pace to pounce on it and it bounced away.
Boston was able to swarm around the Washington goal plenty of times in the first half, but just weren’t patient enough to really work the ball into scoring position, and so the half ended at 0-0.
Boston came right out of the gate in the second half, though, scoring in the 47’ as Salem found Leon on the wing. Leon put in another cross and Dowie trucked her way over Caprice Dydasco to head the ball in and make it 1-0.
It was all Boston for the next 10 minutes as the Breakers added goals #2 and #3 in the 54’ and the 55’. Adriana Leon picked up the ball and just keep going and going and her soft shot on goal picked up a deflection to put it past Haracic for 2-0, technically an own goal, while on the third Brooke Elby was left alone on Washington’s far post and slammed it across the goal and in.
Washington did their best to return the pressure. Mal Pugh had not one but two goals waved off for offside, first in the 62’ as she drifted behind the back line and seemed to be held on by Allysha Chapman, and then in the 72’, once again cutting between defenders. Pugh exploited the gap between the Boston center backs, who played a riskier game in allowing themselves to pull apart and counting on Abby Smith to fill in the gap in a sort of sweeper keeper role.
Boston made their first sub in the 65’, with Hayley Dowd making her first professional appearance as she came on for Tiffany Weimer and took up her space on the left. Boston made two quick subs after that, with Ifeoma Onumonu on for Leon in the 73’ and Katie Stengel on for Amanda Frisbie in the 75’. Chapman moved centrally and Brooke Elby dropped down into the left back position, allowing Stengel to operate up top with Dowie.
Washington kept up the pressure, trying to force a turnover and break with the ball. Mal Pugh put a good ball across the face of goal in the 79’ but there was no one running onto the far post. The Boston defense seemed to flag a bit in the last 10 minutes of the game. Onumonu’s fresh legs let her make a clear breakaway in the 89’ but her finishing problems once again became apparent as her shot was smothered by Haracic.
Boston had one last chance deep into stoppage as a ball dropped for Stengel right in front of goal, but she couldn’t corral it with her first touch and her pass out to Dowd saw Dowd blast it high and wide. Still, the game ended 3-0, the first road win for Boston in 2017, and it must surely be a relief to a team that has been winless for the previous 10 games.
Boston will return home for their last game of the season on Saturday, September 30 against Sky Blue FC.