Sky Blue FC celebrates a second half goal by Nogueira (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Sky Blue FC Overcomes First Place Philadelphia Independence, 2-0
Sky Blue FC forward Casey Nogueira came onto the field in the second half to net a pair of goals in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) action on Saturday night, leading host Sky Blue FC (4-5-4, 16 points) to a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Independence (8-3-3, 27 points). With the win, Sky Blue FC moves into third place in the WPS Standings, also bringing a six-game Philadelphia winning streak to an end.
Sky Blue FC nearly got on the scoreboard in the 11th minute of this contest when a ball was delivered forward to a streaking Eniola Aluko on the right side of the pitch. The English international then settled the ball and took a couple of touches before finding fellow striker Adriana splitting the Independence defense on the left flank. The Spanish forward quickly struck the ball towards the frame, but her attempt was just wide of the target.
The majority of the action over the rest of the opening half was played in the midfield, with both teams being limited in shot attempts. The goalkeepers and defenses of each side also stepped up to keep the slate clean, and this match headed into intermission with a scoreless tally.
In the second half of play, Sky Blue FC nearly notched the go-ahead score after a foul outside the Philadelphia 18-yard box provided the home side with a free kick opportunity. Stepping over the ball was Adriana, who quickly squared up towards the opposing goal. Once the whistle was blown to get the action underway, she fired a shot towards the target that struck the far post. After the ball bounced off the frame, it was sent out of bounds before the host club could capitalize.
The stalemate was finally broken in the 70th minute of this game, and Adriana was again at the forefront of the scoring chance. After receiving distribution in the middle of the field, she looked up to see Nogueira running into space just outside the 18-yard box. The Spanish striker then fed the ball forward to the two-time NCAA Player of the Year as Independence netminder Val Henderson came off her post. Before allowing her to react, Nogueira put a toe poke on the ball, and it rolled all the way into the open net. With 20 minutes left in regulation, Sky Blue FC saw itself holding a 1-0 advantage.
Sky Blue FC then widened the gap to 2-0 in the 80th minute, with Nogueira placing her second goal of the night onto the stat sheet. With the ball at her feet, Swedish midfielder Therese Sjogran raced through the center of the Philadelphia defense before looking to her side to see Nogueira streaking down the left flank. She quickly dished the ball over, and Nogueira one-touched a bullet past Henderson and into the far side netting.
With two goals in hand, the home side held on the rest of the way to preserve the win and the shutout, picking up a critical three points.
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a road match on Wednesday evening against magicJack before the team returns to Yurcak Field for its 2011 home finale next Saturday at 7:00 p.m., hosting the Western New York Flash.