It was a game for people who love goalkeeping, as both Jane Campbell and Abby Smith had to be at their very best when the Houston Dash welcomed the Boston Breakers this weekend in the National Women's Soccer League. Campbell was the winner of that battle as her and her team picked up a 1-0 win over the visitors thanks to a first half goal by Nichelle Prince.
The goalkeepers take centre stage
Campbell was tested early as Margaret Purce crossed towards Rosie White who tried to head home from close range, only to be denied by a strong arm from the Houston goalkeeper. Purce was the creator once again in the 12th minute when she found Adriana Leon unmarked at the far post and the Canadian fired her effort off the crossbar. Campbell could only watch and thank her goal post for preventing Leon from giving the Breakers the lead in that instance.
For all of Boston's early chances, it was Houston who took the lead in the 23rd minute when Andressa slipped the ball through to Prince in transition and the young forward tucked her shot into the near post and away from Smith's diving effort.
Abby Smith showed her abilities during the game as well, when in the 54th minute, Prince broke forward with pace and played Rachel Daly through on goal. The English striker was denied an opportunity to get her goal as Smith came out quickly and closed the angle down for Daly which then resulted in a goal kick for Boston. Her next save came in the 73rd minute when Carli Lloyd let it rip from 25 yards out and Smith made a great leap to push the shot over her goal for a corner kick. Smith was called upon again in the 84th minute when she kept Janine Beckie's flick from finding its way into the net and putting Houston up by two goals.
Houston are on the up while Boston have to find a way out of the bottom
This win makes it five games without a loss for the Dash as they look to climb back up the table and secure a spot in the playoffs for the first time in their history. The Dash are doing so without the services of Kealia Ohai who is still out with an injury, and a change in goalkeepers as Campbell is now seemingly the number one goalkeeper instead of Lydia Williams. The return of Lloyd from her loan with Manchester City Women has certainly helped Houston's fire power and they seem to have found a stable backline which is allowing less shots on goal than what they previously had been allowing. The Dash have a tough game away at Portland Thorns FC after the FIFA international break but if they can play on the break like they did tonight, they have a very good chance of picking up a result there.
The Boston Breakers are not having the kind of season their start potentially gave them. Injuries to key players, in particular Rose Lavelle, have certainly played their part in derailing a season that started out so brightly for the Breakers. They are conceding a large number of goals and not scoring enough, which leaves them in eighth right now in the standings and a good ten points off the last playoff spot. Boston have a home game against FC Kansas City next on their schedule and they will hope to have most of their players fit again by then to somehow give their season a late boost. FCKC is a difficult team to face on any day and the Breakers will need to be ruthless in front of goal if they want to pick up the win that day.