SOMERVILLE, Mass. — Kia McNeill’s name rarely makes the boxscore with the National Women’s Soccer League’s Boston Breakers. As a defender, McNeill helps keep the Breakers’ opponents off the scoreboard.
McNeill, who grew up in Avon and was two-time All-State player at Avon High, has played and started in 20 of Boston’s first 21 games. She has played over 1,800 minutes – one of just four Breaker players with that much time on the field this season.
“Kia has been awesome,” player/coach Cat Whitehill said after the Breakers beat Kansas City last Saturday night, 1-0. “I love playing beside her.”
The Breakers (8-7-6) snapped Kansas City’s 10-game unbeaten streak before a sellout crowd of over 2,100 fans in Somerville, Mass. Kansas City (11-4-5) had just two shots on goal in the game – the second lowest by an opponent all year on Boston.
One sequence in a 1-0 win over Portland last week showcased McNeill’s contributions. It may be quiet for her on the stat sheet but her actions speak loudly on the field.
Portland’s Nikki Marshall got into the penalty box and ripped a shot that Boston goalie Alyssa Naeher reacted to and knocked out. The ball went to Portland’s Tiffany Weimer, whose shot was blocked by Boston’s Julie King in front of the goal. Weimer’s follow-up shot was blocked by McNeill to keep the game scoreless.
Boston finishes out the regular season with a game at Western New York on Saturday night (FOX Soccer Channel) and will miss out on the NWSL playoffs. But Whitehill is pleased how her team is finishing up the season. Not only has Boston beaten all four playoff teams at least once, but the Breakers are 3-0-1 in their last four games.
“We want to finish strong, and one way to finish strong is to get better now and to keep winning, and we’re doing it,” said Whitehill, a 2012 U.S. Olympian. “Kansas City is playing some of the best soccer in the league, and there’s a chance they’re going to win the championship. For us to beat every team that is in the playoffs shows that we’re a really good team.”
The win over Kansas City was the final home game of the season for the Breakers, who were eliminated from playoff contention earlier this week. Sydney Leroux scored her 11th goal of the season off an assist from Kyah Simon in the 65th minute for Boston.