Eniola Aluko Scores a Pair in Wild One

Forward Eniola Aluko scored two goals for Sky Blue FC (Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
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magicJack Able to Defeat Visiting Sky Blue FC, 3-2

In a wild midweek game in South Florida, host magicJack (7-6-2, 22 points) used a pair of late goals to defeat visiting Sky Blue FC (5-7-4, 19 points), 3-2, overtaking third place in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Standings with the result. MagicJack forward Abby Wambach and Sky Blue FC striker Eniola Aluko each scored a pair of goals in the contest, but an 86th minute goal by midfielder Megan Rapinoe would eventually prove to be the game-winner.

“I was really proud of the team’s performance tonight, twice battling back from being a goal down,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra stated. “Defensively, we made a few mistakes and were punished on three of them. However, we continued to fight back, and it was great to see Eni get some goals, especially considering how difficult it is to play against this back four. She made some good combinations in there, as well as some really well timed runs and finishes.”

The home team struck first in this match in the 5th minute of play, with Wambach being the player who created for her team. After receiving a ball on the right side of the field, she raced down that flank and past the Sky Blue FC defense. As soon as she was able to look up and find an opening, Wambach tapped a shot towards the opposing frame and saw it roll into the far netting. With just five minutes off the clock, magicJack held a 1-0 advantage.

That early notch would prove to be the lone tally of the opening half of play, despite aggressive efforts from both sides. When the whistle was blown for intermission, the count remained 1-0 in favor of magicJack.

Once the second half got underway, Sky Blue FC was able to level the terms in the 56th minute. After a well crafted run by Aluko was cut short on a tackle by magicJack defender Christie Rampone, the speedy striker quickly made up for that stoppage on the ensuing play. Captain Heather O’Reilly was able to acquire the ball, and she immediately found Aluko darting towards the frame. The New Jersey native then distributed a feed forward, where the English international took possession and raced past the magicJack defense. Before netminder Jillian Loyden could react, Sky Blue FC garnered the equalizing notch after Aluko placed a shot into the back of the net.

Both teams continued to fight after that game-tying goal, and the home side would eventually regain the edge in the 77th minute. On the scoring play, Wambach acquired her second tally of the night after a run that lured Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Karen Bardsley from her post, quickly tapping the go-ahead notch over her head to give her side a 2-1 advantage.

That Wambach score would trigger an offensive burst in this affair, and Sky Blue FC would again equalize when Aluko put a second goal onto the stat sheet in the 84th minute. On that play, Spanish international Adriana was the heads-up player who found Aluko streaking towards the frame, feeding her distribution at the right moment for her teammate to finish.

However, the dramatic conclusion to this game would come just two minutes later on a scoring play by magicJack midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who was able to put a pass from second half substitute Lisa de Vanna into the back of the net, sending the hosts into an uproar. MagicJack was then able to hold onto that 3-2 lead the rest of the way, claiming three important points on the WPS Table.

Sky Blue FC now has two more road matches on tap for the 2011 regular season, with the first one coming this Sunday in Philadelphia against the Independence on Fox Soccer Channel at 6:00 p.m. The team will then close out its schedule in Boston the following Sunday against the hometown Breakers.

“We need points. We need to play to win,” Gabarra said of the final two matches. “We have to battle in both of these remaining games because every point is so critical. We now head back to New Jersey, and we will get ourselves ready for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia.”

As the standings currently sit, Sky Blue FC holds the fourth and final berth to the postseason, possessing a three point edge over Boston.

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