Monday, April 26, 2010

Athletica 1-1 Breakers: Haven't We Seen This Before?

Note: This entry also runs on Boston Breakers Report.

By Lee Pender

Baseball great and noted wordsmith Yogi Berra might have described today's St. Louis Athletica vs. Boston Breakers clash with one of his most famous quotes: "It's deja vu all over again." Once again, the rain came. Once again, Boston opened the scoring. And once again, the Breakers were undone by a goal that originated from a free kick. Boston did, however, manage to nab a point away from home.

On what looked on Fox Soccer Channel like a wet, windy afternoon in St. Louis, the Boston Breakers drew with St. Louis Athletica, 1-1, in a match that eerily resembled the 1-1 draw in Boston's home opener versus Philadelphia. The Breakers drew first blood only to have their opponent equalize just six minutes later--exactly as it happened against the Independence.

This time, Kasey Moore recorded her first goal as a Breaker, a strike that originated from a corner by Kristine Lilly. Lilly's corner, which came from the left-hand side of St. Louis goalkeeper Hope Solo, trickled into the penalty area, and potent Boston striker Kelly Smith trotted to meet it. Smith, though, playing the decoy, chose to let the ball sneak by her, and Moore slammed it home with a fierce shot across goal and into the corner of Solo's net.

Again, though, the Breakers' lead was short-lived. In the 27th minute, Athletica's Aya Miyama won a free kick just outside the penalty area to the right-hand side of Boston goalkeeper Ashley Phillips. Miyama sent her kick across the penalty area, and then chaos ensued in Boston's back line. Tina Ellertson of St. Louis headed the ball from Phillips's left-hand side directly to the face of the goal. From there, the ball pinballed and ended up on the head of Carolyn Blank, who nodded it home. The goal and the general set-piece confusion in Boston's defense strongly resembled last week's equalizer by the Independence. Clearly, the Breakers will be working this week in training on defending free kicks.

The rest of the match took place without much significant action, and two teams that were battling for first place fell into a tie for second in the league table. Boston now finds itself level on points (five) with its last two opponents, Philadelphia and St. Louis, while FC Gold Pride and Sky Blue FC top the table with six points each.

Again this week, inclement weather dampened the attacks for both teams. As predicted, Boston did run with three strikers--Smith, Fabiana and Lauren Cheney--up front. But it was midfielder Liz Bogus--not Chioma Igwe, as the team had suggested on Friday--who took a seat for this match and didn't see the pitch. Nevertheless, Boston's attacking strategy melted in the rain at Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park in Fenton, Missouri, as did much of the play in this waterlogged game contested in front of what appeared to be a small--if dedicated--St. Louis crowd.

The Breakers will return to action on Saturday, May 1, at home to the Chicago Red Stars. Game time will be 6pm at Harvard Stadium.

Lee Pender and Steven Apostolov are co-authors of Boston Breakers Report.  

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