The Boston Breakers found several ways to threaten the Seattle Reign goal Sunday night. But if the Breakers were not missing high, wide, or off the bar, Hope Solo was making saves as the Reign took a 3-0 victory.
The Breakers (0-2), playing before a crowd of 3,743 that included Senator Elizabeth Warren in their NWSL home opener at Harvard’s Jordan Field, surrendered two first-half goals before outplaying the Reign (1-1-0, 3 points) for a long stretch of the second half.
“I think we proved in that 25-minute period of the second half we can beat anyone on our day,” Breakers coach Matt Beard said. “Just now, we’ve got to be a little more composed and relaxed in front of goal and take those chances.
The Reign scored twice off throw-ins and once off a corner kick. Manon Melis (10th minute) and Rachel Corsie (39th) each converted Kim Little assists in the opening half, and Little herself added a goal in the 79th minute.
The Reign’s Jessica Fishlock and Keelin Winters controlled the midfield for much of the first half. Then Little, Winters, and Beverly Yanez took charge after Fishlock was injured.
But the Breakers produced several opportunities. Kristie Mewis and Kyah Simon combined in the second half, Mewis missing wide after going one-on-one with Solo in the 53d minute, and Simon firing high 10 minutes later. Brittany Ratcliffe and Julie King hit the crossbar, and substitute forward Morgan Marlborough had a late point-blank shot grabbed by Solo, the most difficult of her three saves.
In the first half, the Reign took the lead when Melis looped a left-footer over Libby Stout just under the bar, finishing a feed from Little off a throw-in.
The Breakers recovered, threatening on the right via Ratcliffe. Forwards Stephanie McCaffrey and Mewis also had chances.
Fishlock departed soon after a 30th-minute clash with McCall Zerboni, Seattle playing several minutes shorthanded. But the Reign displayed resourcefulness, taking a two-goal lead off a corner kick following a counterattack.
“We did well to capitalize on the space we got,” Seattle coach Laura Harvey said. “We don’t tend to get loads and loads of chances or take loads and loads of shots, but when we do we’re pretty clinical.”
The Breakers were on the offensive when Ratcliffe earned a free kick in the 38th minute. But Seattle’s clearance led to a long run by Melis, who won a corner kick. Corsie then redirected Little’s corner past Stout for a 2-0 edge. Fishlock was replaced by former Breaker Elli Reed before the kickoff.
Beard encouraged the Breakers to go on the offensive in the second half, and the tactic nearly paid off as Mewis and Simon found openings.
“We weren’t taking enough risks going forward,” Beard said. “When we’ve got the ball we need to get bodies going forward, make them mark us rather than make it easy for them to defend against us.”
The Breakers, who host the Portland Thorns next Sunday, controlled the tempo for much of the second half before Little fired in a short-range left-footer off a throw-in.
“It’s frustrating, because the first two goals were definitely preventable,” Beard said. “The third goal, obviously, we’re chasing the game. It became a little bit open.
“I thought we clicked in the second half, apart from just finishing it. For me, the second half, I can take a lot of positives. Both games, we’ve been organized defensively. Anyone here tonight wouldn’t have said it’s a 3-nil game. We have to remain positive and take the positives of our defensive play and the second half, when we cause them a lot of problems.”