Sky Blue FC is still seeking its first win in 2011 (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Boston Breakers Use 53rd Minute Goal to Gain Result over New Jersey Side
Sky Blue FC (0-2-1, 1 point) gave another strong effort in its road match on Sunday night, but the New Jersey club eventually fell to the host Boston Breakers (2-2-0, 6 points) at Harvard Stadium, 1-0. The Breakers earned the tight victory thanks to a 53rd minute notch by defender Rachel Buehler, which came off a free kick attempt that was sent by English international Kelly Smith.
“I thought we played pretty well for most of the game,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra stated. "Defensively, we were solid, and I think we controlled the play for two-thirds of the game while creating some good chances. We were probably a little impatient and did not do a really good with the chances we created offensively, as far as the last pass, last shot or last run is concerned.”
A battle for possession occurred between the two sides in the opening half of this match, and neither goalkeeper was asked to make a big save until the 30th minute of action. At that time, Sky Blue FC striker Eniola Aluko raced down the right flank with the ball at her feet and then sent a dangerous feed across the mouth of the goal. Midfielder Allie Long stretched for it, but the forever hustling Heather O’Reilly would be the player to get a strong touch on the delivery. When the ball arrived at her feet, the U.S. National Team midfielder struck the ball with a hard right foot towards the frame, but Boston netminder Alyssa Naeher was there to make the save.
That 30th minute play proved to be the most dangerous opportunity for either side in the opening half, and the two teams headed into the locker rooms at intermission with a scoreless tally.
The stalemate in this game was eventually broken in the 53rd minute, and it was the home club that was responsible. Smith stepped over a free kick on the right wing from about 35 yards out and fired a well placed strike into the center of the box. The ball bounced dangerously a couple times in front of the frame before Buehler slid and powered it into the back of the net, giving her team a 1-0 advantage.
The first great chance of the second half for Sky Blue FC came seven minutes later when a free kick was struck from the midfield towards the target. With the ball still in flight, defender Carrie Dew put a head on the delivery, but Naeher was able to get a hand on the attempt to make the diving save.
Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jenni Branam matched the effort of her counterpart in the 69th minute, when Boston forward Kelley O’Hara ran down the left flank with the ball before sending it far side to the feet of midfielder Keelin Winters. The University of Portland product then booted a shot towards the goal, but Branam was able to stretch out and keep the ball clean of the end line.
The visiting side continued to battle throughout the remainder of the 90 minutes, but an equalizer would not arrive. When the final whistle had blown, the Breakers picked up three points with the 1-0 result.
“I was happy tonight with our defensive effort,” Gabarra concluded. “I thought Danielle Johnson stepped up in her first start of the season and did a nice job. The back four played a controlling brand of soccer and did not give up many chances. Collectively, we played well as a team, but you have to do a little more than just play well to pick up the win in this league.”
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a Friday road pairing with the unbeaten Western New York Flash (2-0-1, 7 points), with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. The contest is the third of three consecutive games away from home for the team before returning to Yurcak Field on Saturday, May 21st, to host the Atlanta Beat at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that outing are available now by calling 888-SBFC-TIX.