The Breakers found their scoring stride on Sunday, opening play with a brilliant 1st minute tally. A late collapse left three points on the table, however, dooming Tom Durkin and his struggling second-year squad.
Just seconds into her team's first possession, Breakers forward Lisa De Vanna collected a short clearance, turned, and slotted a through ball to Heather O'Reilly, enabling the U.S. International to collect the deep pass behind Houston's back line. Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod partially deflected O'Reilly's first attempt, though O'Reilly immediately gathered the rebounded and placed her shot into an open net.
Despite earning an early lead, the Breakers continued to pressure Houston's back line. O'Reilly nearly assisted a second goal when she found Kaylyn Kyle on the far post, though her cross just overshot the reaching midfielder. For Boston, the early-match opportunity marked one of several promising chances, as the team scattered five shots throughout the first half. Houston recorded just two (none on goal).
Five minutes into the second half, Boston's stingy defensive effort finally buckled, allowing Houston to gather the equalizer. Dash forward Tiffany McCarty forced Boston goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher into a sprawling save, creating a rebound for Ella Masar, who calmly finished the second opportunity. Masar's goal represented the first in franchise history.
In the 70the minute, the Breakers earned their second lead of the game, this time created by O'Reilly. Her left-footed cross found Joanna Lohman in the box, who outmuscled her defender and headed the assist pass McLeod.
For the Breakers, however, a 2-1 lead would not hold. In the 81st minute, Dash substitute Rafaelle Souza dribbled through the middle of the park and placed a well-paced ball on the foot of fellow substitute Teresa Noyola. With space at the top of the 18, Noyola hit shot into the far upper corner, beating Naeher and helping Houston equalize once more.
Four minutes later, Souza created the game winner. The ‘Ole Miss graduate and 2014 rookie entered the box with purpose, took a touch, and hit the ground following a hard challenge by defender Courtney Jones. Noyola placed the ensuing penalty kick into the lower right corner for the 3-2 lead.
For the Breakers, a strong first half led to an uninspired second frame, as a late defensive lapse spoiled Durkin's first NWSL victory. The Breakers will have to harness their offensive progression--and find solutions to their defensive woes--to dig themselves out of an early-season hole.
The Breakers will host rivals Sky Blue F.C. (0-0-2, 2 Pts.) on Sunday, seeking to earn their first result in 2014. Match kicks off at 7 p.m.; purchase tickets by visiting breakerstickets.com.