Midfielder Sophie Schmidt scored the lone goal for Sky Blue FC (Photo by Howard C. Smith).
Team Suffers First Defeat of the Young NWSL Season
Sky Blue FC (2-1-0, 6 points) suffered its first defeat of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season on Wednesday evening, falling to the Western New York Flash (1-1-2, 4 points) at Sahlen Stadium in Rochester, 2-1. After facing an early 2-0 deficit to the host side in the first half, Sky Blue FC battled within a goal of Western New York on a 44th minute notch from Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt, but that 2-1 score would still remain when the final whistle concluded the match.
“We cannot come out as flat as we did in the first half and expect to have a chance at getting points on the road,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra stated. “We allowed a couple of goals early, and, in all honesty, we were a little fortunate to still be in the game by scoring a goal in the last few minutes of the first half. We did a little better in the second half, but we just were not getting to the ball first. Even with that said, we had some opportunities to steal a point there at the end.”
The host Flash struck first in this match on a play that ran down the left flank of its offense in the 6th minute. Running from the corner to receive distribution from midfielder Veronica Perez was forward Samantha Kerr, who then turned towards the opposing goal. With a step in front of her, Kerr crossed a ball to the near side of the frame, and former Sky Blue FC striker Adriana reversed the feed by tapping it into the near-side netting with her left foot. Goalkeeper Brittany Cameron was able to get a fingertip on the shot, but the ball was just out of her reach. With just a few minutes played, Sky Blue FC trailed for the first time of the season, 1-0.
Western New York continued to press forward on the attack, and the home side saw its advantage stretch to two goals in the 20th minute. Again, it was Kerr who put the scoring play into motion. The Australian playmaker sent a ball forward from the left side of the midfield, and it dangerously bounced to an anxiously awaiting Abby Wambach. The U.S. National Team forward then positioned herself as the feed approached, and she quickly fired a right-footed boot that found the back of the net to give her club a 2-0 lead.
With the Flash seemingly in control of the momentum, Sky Blue FC answered the call in the 44th minute to close the gap on Western New York. On the scoring sequence, Australian forward Lisa DeVanna broke through the Flash defense with the ball at her feet, and she then looked to side-step Western New York netminder Adrianna Franch to her left, only to see a diving Franch push the ball from her possession. However, Sky Blue FC striker Kelley O’Hara was there to clean up the play on the left side of the box, and she turned towards the center of the field to deliver a hard roller to Schmidt. The Canadian National Team playmaker then stepped into the pass and struck a hard one-timer from 18 yards out, watching the ball strike the back netting to bring her team within a single tally, 2-1.
The second half of play included aggressive back-and-forth action that saw each team create some good opportunities, with DeVanna acting as a key figure on the offensive end of the field for Sky Blue FC. She often saw herself with just enough space to establish chances for her side, but Franch found a way to stay positioned where she was able to clean up any danger that was created in front of her. The Sky Blue FC defense and Cameron also buckled down on the opposite end of the pitch, and the same count was stated on the scoreboard when the final whistle concluded the action.
“We just have to learn from our mistakes, both individually and collectively,” Gabarra concluded. “We must come prepared to play from the opening whistle. The next two games are at home and are very important for us, so the first thing we have to do right now is focus on next Wednesday against Chicago.”
Next up for Sky Blue FC is on Wednesday night when the team hosts the Chicago Red Stars at 7:00 p.m., back at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey. Tickets for that game are available now and can be purchased by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (723-2849).