Head coach Jim Gabarra has been pulling all the right strings with Sky Blue FC (Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Team Earns Third Consecutive Shutout in Front of Goalkeeper Brittany Cameron
Sky Blue FC (5-1-1, 16 points) continued its best start in franchise history on Sunday night, defeating the host Seattle Reign FC (0-6-1, 1 point) in a third straight shutout victory, 3-0. The visiting side got on the board first with an 9th minute tally from Australian forward Lisa De Vanna, concluding the scoring in the second half with goals from Canadian playmaker Sophie Schmidt (79th) and midfielder Taylor Lytle (87th). The shutout was the fourth of the season for Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron, who currently leads the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in that statistical category.
“It was a difficult game with the quick turnaround and playing against a team that is working hard for its first win,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra stated. “We started out pretty well and got a fairly early goal. We probably could have added a couple more in the first half, but we left them in the game. In the end, it was a good win even though the score line was a little overstated because Seattle played really hard and created some chances. Overall, I’m just glad to get out of here with the win and another clean slate.”
After a bit of feeling out process in the opening minutes, Sky Blue FC struck early into this encounter. The scoring play was created off a great run from Australian midfielder Caitlin Foord, who found room on the right flank. Seeing just enough space in the center of the field, Foord turned inside and then delivered a through-ball that split two Seattle defenders and found its way to the feet of De Vanna. Once the ball arrived, De Vanna was able to put a quick touch on the ball, redirecting the feed into the net to gain a 1-0 advantage for her side in the 9th minute.
After that notch opened up the scoring, Sky Blue FC obtained control of the momentum over the first half in this match, playing unselfishly and at a quicker pace. The entire team was distributing the ball well throughout the field, with De Vanna seemingly involved in every offensive play in some way. She was able to earn service on the left flank of the offensive set when the space was available, and the Matilda also created scoring opportunities of her own in the middle of the field.
While the effort remained strong for Sky Blue FC on the offensive end of the field, the 1-0 tally would remain standing when the two sides broke for intermission.
Sky Blue FC received a bit of a scare in the 50th minute when Reign FC striker Tiffany Cameron shook loose on top of the box and raced toward the opposing goal with the ball in her possession. Sky Blue FC netminder Brittany Cameron then jumped at her feet as she attempted to maneuver around her, but an ensuing foul then ended the play before any damage could be done.
The plot twisted a bit in the 62nd minute of this match after Seattle defender Jenny Ruiz took down De Vanna in the box. A necessary yellow card was then pulled from the pocket of the head official, which was the second of the contest for Ruiz after she was given her first booking in the 25th minute on a tripping infraction. As Ruiz was being sent off the field, De Vanna set up for the ensuing penalty kick. The Australian playmaker then stepped over the ball and fired a strike towards the left side of the frame. With the ball quickly approaching, Reign FC goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer dove towards the attempt and made an athletic save of the shot to keep it a one-goal differential.
The action on the pitch then picked up and continued to be quite heated, with a series of yellow cards being issued to both sides. Sky Blue FC was then able to capitalize on the aggressive play after Kelley O’Hara earned a 79th minute free kick following a hard foul that landed her on the ground just on top of the box. Schmidt then walked over to the ball to take the ensuing free kick from about 20 yards out. She immediately stepped towards the ball and struck a bending shot directly on frame that ripped into the back netting, giving her club a 2-0 advantage with just over 10 minutes to play.
In the 87th minute, Sky Blue FC finished off the scoring on a second goal in as matches for substitute Lytle. Just three days after recording a game-winner over the Portland Thorns, Lytle received a bouncing ball in the middle of the offensive end of the field from O’Hara. She then quickly turned on the distribution and one-touched a lobbing strike with a perfect directory that essentially froze Kopmeyer as she watched it sail over her head and into the goal, making it a 3-0 match in favor of the road side.
“Taylor can come in and play a couple of different positions,” Gabarra remarked. “She took advantage of her chance down in Portland and then played well again tonight. She’s one of those players who can come in and help the team in a variety of ways, such as pressuring the ball and finding herself in good positions. She is definitely doing her job, and she is making it hard on us to keep her out of the starting lineup.”
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a Saturday road pairing against FC Kansas City, with kickoff set for 7:35 p.m. The team next returns home to Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Saturday, June 1st, when it hosts the Boston Breakers at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that game are available now and can be purchased by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (723-2849).