FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – If the remainder of the Women's Professional Soccer playoffs are half as exciting as Wednesday night's magicJack win over the Boston Breakers, women's soccer fans are in for a treat.
As for the 2,057 in attendance at FAU Soccer Field in Boca Raton, Fla., their home side entertained them to a 3-1 win thanks to a couple of the USA internationals.
Abby Wambach recorded a brace, and Megan Rapinoe netted the other, while Sarah Huffman had herself a top-notch game as magicJack continued to have the Breakers' number this 2011 campaign, winning its fourth of five matches over the Northeast club in convincing fashion and advancing to the WPS Super Semifinal on Saturday (4 p.m. ET at Philadelphia Independence).
It didn't take long for the home side to get ahead in the match. In just the sixth minute, Huffman had the ball with time and space on the right flank, rifling in a driven cross into the center of the box about six yards out.
Breakers keeper Alyssa Naeher laid out to punch it away, but could only tap it away to Wambachm, who calmly drilled the ball into the vacant net.
As if things weren't going Boston's way already, things got worse not too far after. First, in the 13th minute, Meghan Klingenberg went off after getting tangled up with magicJack defender Tina Ellertson. After having her wrist looked at for a couple minutes, coach Tony DiCicco made the decision to put in Eli Reed for the injured midfielder.
And in the 17th Rachel Buehler was beaten off the dribble by Rookie of the Year Christen Press, taking her down to save a breakaway. Her discretion warranted a yellow card, taking away her aggressive nature in the process.
Naeher made the first positive play for the Breakers in the 24th minute. With Press open at the top of the box, she ripped a left-footed shot for the far post, but the Breakers keeper laid out and tipped the ball away from the target and out for a corner.
Then out of nowhere, the Breakers pulled even in the 31st minute. Amy LePeilbet lofted a free kick from around midfield into the box. Wambach, playing in the box for defensive header purposes, won the 50-50 ball but couldn't clear it. Wambach's header went to Leslie Osborne who nodded the ball to rookie Keelin Winters and she volleyed a shot past Jillian Loyden for the equalizer.
Much like the Breakers' injury-to-insult beginning, magicJack's Ellertson had to come out moments after the goal - subbed on for Lydia Vandenbergh due to an injury.
Play opened up after that, with Rapinoe taking a couple shots at goal. In the 37th, Rapinoe streaked forward with no one contesting her dribble. Just outside the box, the USA international unloaded a shot for the near post that beat Naeher but bounced off the woodwork and out.
Less than a minute later, Rapinoe had the ball in the center of the box and had a go at goal, but missed just wide.
Just prior to the half, Buehler avoided getting another card when she made a clear pushing motion toward Wambach in the box on a cross. No call was made, and both sides went into the half knotted at 1.
MagicJack came out of the locker room with a lot of aggression, looking to break the draw. Wambach, Rapinoe and Press all had quality chances within the first five minutes, with the latter having the best chance in the 49th minute, whipping a shot just wide of the post after running onto a Rapinoe pass leading her behind the Breakers back line and into the box.
Huffman, who set up the first goal, played a part in setting up another Wambach goal. Huffman made a cut into the box, beating Taryn Hemmings, who took her down in the process. A penalty was called, and Wambach knocked it in with ease past Naeher to brake the draw in the 57th.
In consecutive minutes, Press and Huffman both missed chances at extending the magicJack lead, with the duo missing high of Naeher's target in the 58th and 59th minutes respectively.
But in the 61st, magicJack figured it out. Press raced into the box, cut the ball back before it crossed the end line and chipped a pass to Rapinoe who headed it to the far side netting.
Boston made its attempt to get back in the game, even putting on injured English international Kelly Smith (for Hemmings) for an offensive burst, but magicJack laid back from the offensive third and put nine and 10 players behind the ball, closing out all the gaps. It was cruise control for the final half hour as magicJack advanced to the WPS Super Semifinal.