Sky Blue FC needs a win or tie to advance to the postseason (Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Sky Blue FC Faces Virtual Playoff Game Against Boston Breakers
As Sky Blue FC (5-8-4, 19 points) heads north to Boston today, the team finds itself 90 minutes away from extending the season or possibly having the trip back to New Jersey on Sunday night be its last of the year. Kickoff for a virtual playoff match with the Breakers (4-9-4, 16 points) is slated for 4:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, with a win or tie punching Sky Blue FC’s ticket to the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Playoffs as the fourth and final seed. A win by host Boston, however, would give the Breakers the last berth to the postseason.
“We have to approach this as a playoff game,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra confirmed. “Anytime teams go in playing for a draw, they leave themselves open for bad things to happen. Eventually, they end up losing that game, which would leave us missing out on the playoffs in this situation. We are going up there to try and win the game, and we will be focused on showing defensive discipline. We will also look to attack and get the win.”
With the implications of this match basically making it a play-in playoff contest, Gabarra says that the attitude that Sky Blue FC must have entering this pairing is something that could be highly beneficial if the team indeed advances to the postseason.
“The playoffs are next week, which is a tight turnaround, and it is good to be in a situation where we are already fighting for our lives just to get into the postseason,” he remarked. “That is a good mentality to get used to having because every game going forward has so much meaning. I am looking at the whole scenario as a positive. We aim to get into the playoffs and will try to win a championship, despite any of things we had to endure to get there.”
Assistant coach Rick Stainton shared the same sentiments as Gabarra in terms of the critical significance that this regular season finale holds.
“This game is of obvious importance since it is basically a playoff match, and we are going into Sunday with that mentality,” he stated. “We understand it is a ‘win or go home’ situation, and I know that none of us want the season to end. We have played Boston quite a few times this year, and we have been pretty even in all of the results (1-1-1 record, 2-2 overall score). We know what we have to do when we get out there, and Coach Gabarra has drawn up a really nice game plan for us to be successful. If we do what we need to do to win, then we will advance to play magicJack next week.”
The WPS Playoffs will officially kick off next week with magicJack hosting in Boca Raton, Florida. The semifinal round will then take place next Saturday, with the WPS Championship occurring the following Saturday. The top two seeds will be determined this Sunday, with the first place Western New York Flash (12-2-3, 39 points) hosting the Atlanta Beat (1-12-4, 7 points) at 6:00 p.m. and the second place Philadelphia Independence (11-3-3, 36 points) playing a road match with magicJack (8-7-2, 25 points).