A stylish run and an unassisted strike by brand new Boston Breaker Natasha Dowie put Boston ahead of visiting Orlando 1-0. They'd never look back, pressing and frustrating the Pride up and down the pitch all night. Jami Kranich notched a rare clean sheet for the Breakers, and some younger players got to put in solid shifts. Any win feels good, but this was only win #2 for Boston this year. Coming as it did in front of a sold-out/over-sold (4,379) stadium, it had to be special.
After the match, Matt Beard was all smiles as his reliable Charlton and Liverpool Ladies forward once again sat down beside him to celebrate earning three points. If she can come anywhere near her prior form with Beard while at Liverpool (including one season of 13 goals in 14 games) in Boston, the Breakers could quickly climb out of the league basement.
Regrettably, the match wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. The referee allowed a very physical match, despite the recent history between the teams. Hard fouls were delivered early and often, and once players determined that nothing would be called, they largely stopped complaining and started getting more physical. Only two cards were shown in a comical effort to police the action.
Boston's Brooke Elby and Orlando's Jasmyne Spencer had an awkward, violent collision in the 2nd half (which appeared to me to be a fairly aggressive Spencer foul though it was not called). Spencer went down immediately, but Elby stood briefly before grabbing her back and crumbling to the turf, where she stayed motionless until the training staffs of both teams reached her. She was eventually picked up and carried briefly in a seated position before limping slowly off the pitch. Why she wasn't immobilized and stretchered off is a mystery, as she was later transported to a hospital by ambulance for treatment.
Elby had earlier preserved the Breaker's lead by clearing a net-bound ball with her head. She's grown into a reliable presence since mid-season, and hopefully won't miss much time.
Update via Twitter: She seems to be OK, though she's in a hospital bed tonight.
Get well soon, Brooke!
Later, Rachel Wood came on for Dowie in the 81st minute. She did a nice job of using her body to hold up play and then she got flattened by a school bus. Right on the pitch! Strangely, the only thing that was yellow was the bus, as no card was issued. Nobody knows why. Wood is anything but a mean girl.
Now the NWSL takes a nap while the Olympic tournament takes place. Most of the internationals have been gone for weeks, but now they start to play games that matter. The USWNT kicks off their group play against New Zealand on Wednesday at 6PM (NBCSN). DVRs at the ready!