It was a fairly drab, frustrating, messy and gloomy affair. And not only does that apply for Fenton, Missouri’s weather tonight but also for the respective offenses of both Saint Louis and Boston.
There were some bright spots in the match though, including some killer chances that were expertly squandered by both Hope Solo and Ashley Phillips (who is looking like one hell of a goalkeeper). There were also some good performances from unlikely candidates (Kacey Moore, Carolyn Blank, Gina DiMartino) and some disappointing performances from big names (Eniola Aluko, Lauren Cheney, Shannon Boxx for some stretches).
If anything the match proves how overwhelming Saint Louis’ midfield can be. Boston’s forward line and midfield looked limp at times but its defensive unit held up strong. Both teams alternated in who seemed to be more dominant throughout the match. Eniola Aluko was ultimately frustrated by the likes of LePielbet and Kacey, just as Lauren Cheney was neutralized by Kendall Fletcher and (a seemingly shove-happy) Tina Ellertson.
The water-logged pitch was more active and effective in the match than many of the players which is kind of a shame because if the ball was rolling properly and if there wasn’t a moat outside the six-yard box, we probably could have seen what these two teams could really do. Regardless, a 1-1 draw was probably just.
Side note: What do you think the over/under is for chances that Tony DiCicco will receive some kind of fine for the comments he will inevitably make against referee Felisha Mariscal (if he hasn’t already)?
GK Hope Solo – 7 She had some very uncharasteristic blunders in the first half, both which would have resulted in goals if they were better taken by Cheney and Smith respectively. It was probably more of the weather’s fault than her own, but it was still a little surprising to see her appear so flustered. But Solo’s giant double-save and her continued presence in the match made up for her early errors. Certainly she’ll be disappointed though.
D Elise Weber 5 Seemed to attempt to guard Cheney in the first half was clearly outmatched physically. Not to worry, she had other teammates to do that. Still, just fine on the right.
D Tina Ellertson 7 Tied up Cheney all day long and succeeded. Was also instrumental in disrupting Boston’s passing game in midfield, particularly as the match wore on.
D Kendall Fletcher 6 Clearly got Barcello’s “be physical” memo passed along to the Athletica defenders. Also made sure Cheney remained a non-factor and made some good passes.
D/M Carolyn Blank 7.5 A very unexpected surprise. She found herself in a rather fortunate position for the goal, but regardless remained composed for the header. Also provided some deft touches and short passes.
M/D Lori Chalupny 6.5 You’re always going to get a ton of industry out of Chalupny in just about every square yard of the field. She seemed to play in a more defensive role and was one of the mob members that swarmed Boston to get back possession.
M Shannon Boxx 5.5 Ehh, I really didn’t see it today, particularly in the second half. She controlled a lot of the passing sequences in the first half, intercepting balls and dispatching lovely, perfectly-weighted passes but then just kind of dropped off. Hoping for more consistency next time.
M Gina Tina DiMartino (Sorry Gina and sorry Tina) 6 Great passing range and eager to take a shot from outside the box. She was also able to find open space for teammates, particularly with passes over-the-top. Didn’t result in many open chances, but good effort.
M/F Aya Miyama 4 Went missing much too much. Her passes were largely accurate, particularly from long-range but not frequent enough. Also didn’t seem to work in Barcellos’ initial 4-3-3. (Note: If Barcellos wants to continue to deploy that system, the link-up between his wide players and Aluko needs to develop because yesterday it was literally non-existent. A 4-5-1 seems to be more efficient, as Saint Louis seems almost freer when their midfield is packed).
F Madelaine Edlund 3 Dunno. Got wide but couldn’t find any space to cross the ball in for Aluko. Didn’t seem to be on the same page with Eni whatsoever
F Eniola Aluko 5 Looked completely and entirely average. Perhaps that was due to Boston’s excellent partnership in central defense or the pitch but Aluko was clearly taking increasingly poor shots as the match wore on. Credit that to frustration. Check mark to Boston.
Niki Cross (for Edlund at half) 7 Largely very good. Added more of a physical presence in almost a holding midfield/sweeper role. Headed most balls away and hassled Smith and Lilly throughout the second half.
Lindsay Tarpley (for DiMartino 74′) 4 Hardly made an impact save for a good passing sequence when she initially came on. Would love to see if she could possibly work with Aluko if she starts though.
India Trotter (for Aluko 87′) Inconclusive
GK Ashley Phillips 7.5 Came up big when she was tested and again proves she’s fully capable of coming out of the box and snatching up balls in risky situations. Her one-handed save on Aluko was exceptional.
D Alex Scott 6 So eager to go forward with her pace and technical precision. Grouped up well with the midfield often and also performed all of her defensive duties.
D Amy LePeilbet 6.5 Not as dominant as last weekend against Philadelphia but still shut down the area in front of Phillips. Expertly outread Aluko.
D Kacey Moore 7.5 Her goal was wonderfully taken and a total surprise. She had space, but the power in which she struck it diagonally and through a couple Athletica defenders in the box was really impressive. No wonder DiCicco loves to employ her in set plays. But she was also dependable in defense, heading away balls and outrunning Saint Louis’ attackers.
D Stephanie Cox 4 Like last week’s match, Cox seemed a little invisible at times. Didn’t seem to venture forward that much this week either.
M Fabiana 6 Brought that requisite Brazilian flair but needs to develop that relationship with Smith and Cheney. She can be an excellent option going wide and if she can link-up with those central players.
M Chioma Igwe 3.5 Looked strong in the early going in her movement forward but then began giving the ball up too cheaply to a better Saint Louis midfield. Was also nowhere to be found in the goal committed against Boston, despite being directly in front of Carolyn Blank’s head.
M Leslie Osborne 5 Tough and gritty in midfield but also got overwhelmed by Saint Louis’ midfield in the second half.
M Kristine Lilly 6 Always looked composed and resourceful on the ball. One of Boston’s most dynamic players even though she couldn’t forge a link between Smith and Cheney.
F Kelly Smith 5.5 Had a pretty average game, despite her physical toughness in both keeping possession and in defense. Also wasted a glorious opportunity when Solo passed the ball right back to her with a shot that was too quick.
F Lauren Cheney 4 Just as Boston had handcuffed Aluko, Saint Louis did the same with Cheney (although with much more physical play). She wasn’t allowed to get her back to goal and then perform her excellent turn. Also wasn’t made available to receive passes. Her frustration may have contributed to the yellow.
Laura del Rio (Fabiana 62′) 4 Took a while to get going down the flank but when she did she wasted some good shots and crosses. Still held on to the ball well.
Jordan Angeli (Igwe 64′) 5 Provided another body in midfield and helped break up a bit of play.
Tiffany Weimer (Smith 79′) Inconclusive but would love to see Weimer start a match. Could provide another option out wide and serve in crosses for Smith or Cheney.