The Boston Breakers should go home happy after coming away from their Maryland road trip with two wins in three days. The deciding score came in the 56th minute as a Cat Whitehill free kick from about 30 yards out was initially cleared but went to flank defender (and converted forward) Courtney Jones on the right, who sent a cross back in to an open Kyah Simon, who put it away.
It was a fair result. The Breakers, with one match under their belts already, had the better of play through most of the match and dominated possession for the first 25 minutes, though without a lot to show for it. At that point, DC United put in their most recent acquisitions, Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson, formerly of the Philadelphia Independence. Even though the pair had only arrived in the area about 1 am Friday morning (after flying in from England) and hadn’t yet practiced with the team, their presence was enough to turn the tide in favor of the home team.
DCU’s best chance of the match came six minutes later, as a well-targeted corner kick was redirected toward goal, headed back out by Amanda DaCosta at the near post, then headed back in by Lohman but right to the keeper, who held on. With time running out, Boston stepped up their attack and was able to get two attackers one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but first Simon skied her shot, then DaCosta sent hers over the crossbar. The first half ended with no score but with United having a slight advantage in shots on goal.
Boston took charge to start the second half. Three minutes in Simon fired a screamer in from at least thirty yards out that goalkeeper Didi Haracic had to leap and redirect over the crossbar. Seven minutes later came the lone score, and several more would have followed without Haracic making some huge saves, including one when she faced two Boston players sans defensive help. With time running down, it became clear that it would take a real fluke for DC to equalize: Boston’s defense was too tenacious to allow any buildup, and when individual United forwards got the ball in the attacking end with space, they didn’t have quite enough pace to beat defenders on their own.
It was a historic match in a number of ways. Due to lingering friction between the two rival leagues, WPSL and W-League teams are seldom allowed to play each other, and this was only the second game between teams from the two leagues that I’m aware of since they split in 1998. (The first was the US Soccer Hall of Fame game in 2007 with the W-League Washington Freedom playing the WPSL Connecticut Reds.) Additionally, it marked a homecoming for two distinguished players: Joanna Lohman of the DCU Women and Cat Whitehill of the Breakers, both of whom played on the same field as teammates on the WPS Washington Freedom in 2009.
Participants on both sides expressed their satisfaction with the result. Cindi Harkes, acting as DC head coach with Mike Jorden away at his daughter’s wedding, said, “I thought that we did well, and we’re much further ahead this year than we were last year. We took some positive things from the game today.”
Lianne Sanderson had similar sentiments: “It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get the win, but I think considering most of us haven’t played with each other before … I think we did well, considering.”
Boston was, of course, happy with the outcome. Breakers head coach Lisa Cole said, “I thought it was a great game for us. We had our WPSL league opener the other day and a little bit slower-paced game, this game was a little bit faster, and we got to leg in [?] some good professionals, and it was good for us to be in a [tight] game where we had to make some adjustments throughout the game. Our priority today wasn’t actually to get the ‘W’ necessarily but to improve on our play, and I thought we did that from Thursday’s game to today’s game. But we also made sure to make it a priority that we played well, and the result I think always comes when you play well.” Cat Whitehill agreed: “It was a really tight game, and it was fun to play, and people flying everywhere, high-caliber players. I love playing a tough game like that.”
Despite the result, I think the Player of the Match honor should go to goalkeeper Didi Haracic, who kept the game much closer than it could have been. Harkes described her as “phenomenal,” and Joanna Lohman noted, “Our goalkeepers made some amazing saves tonight, so we were lucky to have them.”
Lastly, I’ll award the Freedom Memorial Cup for the best Washington-area club team to the DC United Women. They lost to the Boston Breakers by a single goal, while the Chesapeake Charge lost by three, plus the Charge defeated the Maryland Capitols in an exhibition. However, I reserve the right to reconsider this decision depending on how the various teams perform during their league schedules.
A few video interviews follow below.
Cat Whitehill (and, yes, that is Leslie Osborne in the background):
Joanna Lohman (listen to the end for the tale of the huge bee in the locker room):