NEW BRITAIN, Aug. 21 – Thanks to a pair of second half goals from Eniola Aluko, the visiting Atlanta Beat outlasted the Boston Breakers, 3-2, in the first-ever professional women’s soccer game at Willow Brook Park in New Britain before 4,071 fans. The Breakers surged in the final minutes with two goals from Lindsay Tarpley and Kristine Lilly, in stoppage time, but the Beat held on.
Atlanta (5-10-5) kept its slim playoff hopes alive with its fourth win in the last eight games. Atlanta has three games remaining and is five points behind fourth place Washington and New Jersey-based Sky Blue. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs. Boston (8-7-5) had a five-game winning streak snapped with the loss.
“We maintained the majority of possession and were the more dangerous team tonight,” Beat general manager Shawn McGee said. “Our defense had their best game tonight and won tons of balls. The forwards runs were fantastic and there was a lot of unselfish play.”
Opening the scoring in the 11th minute was Atlanta midfielder Lori Chalupny, who froze a defender on a shot fake, went around that defender, and finished to the far post to put the Beat up 1-0 going into the half.
Boston had a close opportunity in the 24th minute when Taryn Hemmings beat an Atlanta defender on the right side and crossed it into the box to Lauren Cheney. But Atlanta’s Hope Solo made a brilliant save on the shot.
The Breakers again pressed hard for the equalizer before the half when Kristine Lilly sent a corner to the far post in the 44th minute. Defender Kasey Moore headed it towards the net but Solo again made the leaping save.
Aluko scored a pair of goals to give Atlanta a 3-0 lead. She made a well timed run on a ball over the top for a breakaway and ripped the ball past Breakers goalkeeper Alyssa Naher in the 66th minute. Aluko’s second goal came on a ball played from forward Ramona Bachmann, who pushed the ball towards goal and went to play it back. The ball bounced off several players before Aluko came in to finish in the 72nd.
With the Beat up 3-0, Boston relied heavily on more direct service from flank players. The Breakers served in a deep ball into the box on an attempt saved by Solo. The save went to the far side Lindsay Tarpley who made the finish.
Breakers midfielder Kristine Lilly took advantage of a Beat mistake out of the back that came straight to her feet. Solo tried to clear the ball but it deflected off an Atlanta teammate right to Lilly, who lofted the ball over Solo, who was a the top of the box, to score the final goal of the match in stoppage time.
Atlanta 3, Boston 2
At New Britain
Boston 0 2 — 2
Atlanta 1 2 — 3
ATL: Lori Chalupny 3 (Unassisted) 11′; ATL: Eniola Aluko 8 (Unassisted) 66′; ATL: Eniola Aluko 9 (Angie Kerr) 73′; BOS: Lindsay Tarpley 3 (Unassisted) 87′; BOS: Kristine Lilly 2 (Unassisted) 90+
Shots 10 9
Shots on Goal 8 5
Fouls 3 7
Offsides 2 8
Corner Kicks 8 7
Saves 2 6
BOSTON BREAKERS — Alyssa Naeher, Amy LePeilbet, Kasey Moore, Stephanie Cox (Liz Bogus, 79′), Fabiana, Kristine Lilly, Taryn Hemmings, Lindsay Tarpley, Chioma Igwe (Laura del Rio, 62′), Lauren Cheney, Jordan Angeli
ATLANTA BEAT — Hope Solo, McCall Zerboni, Kia McNeill, Tina Ellertson, Leigh Ann Robinson, Angie Kerr, Lori Chalupny, Aya Miyama (Carolyn Blank, 85′), Stacy Bishop, Monica Ocampo (Eniola Aluko, 46′), Mami Yamaguchi (Ramona Bachmann, 58′)
Referee: Ted Unkel; Referee Assistants: Kristen Schiereck, Russell Wolf; 4th Official: Daniel Hristov