Breakers bow to magicJack
Playoff hopes on life support
On a goal eerily similar to the one she scored to tie the World Cup game against Brazil, magicJack’s Abby Wambach put up a severe roadblock in the Boston Breakers’ quest to qualify for the Women’s Professional Soccer playoffs.
Wambach also recorded a second goal as magicJack (8-6-2) defeated the Breakers, 2-0, last night at Harvard Stadium and clinched a playoff berth.
“I thought it was an even game, but we made some mistakes in key areas and that cost us,’’ said Breakers forward Kelley O’Hara. “But it’s not over yet.’’
The Breakers (4-9-4) have an outside shot to qualify for the playoffs. They need Sky Blue FC to lose today against Philadelphia. Then, the Breakers must pick up a victory when Sky Blue travels to Harvard Stadium next Sunday in both teams’ final game of the season.
“We hope to get another chance next weekend,’’ said coach Tony DiCicco. “We just want to play well and finish the season strong.’’
The meteoric rise to fame for members of the World Cup team was on display. The lure of seeing Wambach and World Cup teammates Megan Rapinoe, Shannon Boxx, and Christie Rampone was evident as the announced attendance was 7,188.
That figure is the second largest in Boston’s WPS franchise history. The largest crowd was on May 2, 2009, when 8,031 witnessed the Breakers beat the Los Angeles Sol team that featured Brazilian star Marta.
“This vibe doesn’t get old,’’ said Wambach of the fans. “Every stop across the country, the stands have been filled. This is a great experience.’’
The magicJack got on the board in the 44th minute. Rapinoe streaked down the left sideline and lofted a cross in front of the Breakers’ net. Goalie Alyssa Naeher tried to snare the ball but it got past her outstretched hands and Wambach headed it into the empty net.
“I can’t say enough about Rapinoe’s left foot,’’ said Wambach. “It makes my job easier. My size and strength helps and when the ball is in the air, I just try to make the best of my chances.’’
Said DiCicco of Wambach, “It is almost impossible to mark her right now. She’s on another level, above everyone else. Defenders just can’t stop her when the ball is on her head.’’
Wambach got her second strike in the 55th minute. Sarah Huffman took a corner kick and sent it toward the back post of the Boston goal. Again, Wambach got her head on it and it slipped past Naeher, giving magicJack a 2-0 lead.
The Breakers had two golden opportunities to put a goal on the board.
Midway through the second stanza, O’Hara headed a ball over magicJack goalie Jillian Loyden’s head. The ball appeared destined for the back of the net, but Wambach was able to make a kick save, and after the ball pinballed around, Loyden scooped it up.
In the 84th minute, the Breakers were awarded a penalty kick. However, Loyden dived to her right and was able to knock the ball out of harm’s way.
“She’s a backup on the US national team and they have been training on saving penalty kicks forever,’’ said DiCicco.
Other than those instances, Boston couldn’t muster much offense.
The Breakers attempted to spring O’Hara loose on long passes but the magicJack defense was up to the challenge every time.
“Our offense is struggling right now,’’ said DiCicco. “We did some good things, but we just haven’t got many breaks this year.’’