With a steady 2-0 lead late into the second half, the Breakers seemed poised to close the playoff gap with Western New York and prepare for a late-season comeback. Two crucial mistakes rewrote Boston's story on Saturday, however, turning a sure-win into a disappointing draw.
From the opening moments, the Breakers - who parted ways with head coach Lisa Cole on Friday - asserted control over the visiting Flash. In the 17th minute, Australian international Kyah Simon tracked down a daunting cross from team captain and interim coach Cat Whitehill, slotting a shot past Western New York goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.
The Flash responded by putting pressure on Boston's back line, nearly finding the equalizer in the 23rd minute when Carli Lloyd redirected a cross just over the crossbar. Moment's later, Breakers' wing back Jazmyne Avant followed Western New York forward Samantha Kerr into the box, sliding to fend off a dangerous goal-scoring opportunity.
Refusing to allow Boston to gain a second-half foothold, Western New York introduced the second half with a point-blank attempt on goal. In the 50th minute, Kerr sidestepped Naeher, stared into an open goal, and placed a shot just over the crossbar, failing to draw even with the home side.
Despite Western New York's consistent presence in the attacking third, the Breakers doubled their lead in the 65th minute, earning a 2-0 advantage off the foot of forward Lianne Sanderson. After settling a broken corner at the top of the 18, Sanderson patiently placed a shot past Franch, beating Western New York's goalkeeper to her left.
In the 77th minute, Flash forward Vicki DiMartino pulled a goal back for Western New York, flicking a close-range shot over Naeher. Eight minutes later, Lloyd completed the comeback, turning a pass from midfielder Sarah Huffman into Saturday's equalizer.
The Breakers inability to secure three points allowed the Red Stars to move into fifth place on the NWSL table, pushing Boston to the brink of playoff elimination. A complicated formula - including three losses for Western New York, a loss or draw for Chicago, and a season-ending sweep for Boston - provides the Breakers final hope for a playoff berth.
Now seeking a dramatic late-season turnaround, Whitehill's crew must find immediate success to end Boston's inaugural season with a shot at the NWSL title.