With not much left to play for in the season, the Boston Breakers put together a convincing win over the visiting Portland Thorns tonight at Harvard Stadium to a respectable Sunday night crowd. Defender Rachel Wood and midfielder Heather O'Reilly each notched first-half goals that stood unanswered through to the final whistle, lifting the Breakers to their 5th win of the season and denying the Thorns a playoff clinching spot for at least another week.
The home crowd did not have to wait very long for the action to unravel. In the 9th minute, forward Lianne Sanderson was brought down in the corner of the 18-yard box by a Portland defender and the referee posted to the penalty spot. Breakers captain Heather O'Reilly's shot from the spot, however, hit the post and was cleared by Nadine Angerer but not far. A resulting Breakers thrown-in found its way into the box that wasn't able to be cleared and Rachel Wood was first to pounce on it and net it for Boston's first goal of the night.
The Breakers did not have it easy, though, as Portland responded with a good deal of pressure. in the 12th minute Thorns forward Alex Morgan had a good look on goal but her shot strayed just wide of the post. Just a few minutes later Morgan found herself with another chance in front of net and her powerful shot was saved by Naeher.
After withstanding Portland's pressure, it was the home team's turn to try out their counter attack, and it was a huge success. In the 25th minute Lianne Sanderson found herself on the end of a cleared ball from the Boston defensive half and sent an absolutely beautiful ball up to a streaking Heather O'Reilly who buried her far post shot past Angerer for the Breakers' second of the night.
Canadian National teamer Christine Sinclair had her first-half chance as well, coming in the 30th minute, but her blast was blocked by the Boston defense and cleared out comfortably. Five minutes later it was Morgan again who tried to get the better of Naeher, but the Boston net-minder was up to the task and made a huge save on the striker's attempt. The Breakers were able see out the rest of the half, after yet another big save by Naeher on a Morgan attempt, and enter the locker room with a well-earned two-goal advantage.
As if the first 45 minutes weren't enough to prove that Alyssa Naeher was on her A game, in the second half was where she truly shined. Naeher shut town Portland attempts in the 50th and 51st minutes and the Breakers' back line, who should not go without praise themselves, were able to help out and deny the Thorns' attacks in the 52nd and 60th minutes.
Naeher came up huge again in the 63rd minute denying midfielder Allie Long who had a good look on goal. Sinclair had her best chance of the half just about 10 minutes later and, you guessed it, the shot was saved valiantly by Alyssa Naeher.
If you couldn't tell by now, there was just no getting past the Breakers keeper in this one. Even as she was beat in the dying minutes of the match, Rachel Wood was able to block Thorns shots in the 85th and 90th minutes to help the Breakers see out the game and earn their 5th victory of the season.