Sky Blue FC defender Lindsi Cutshall made her first professional start on Sunday night (Photo by Howard C. Smith).
Sky Blue FC Unable to Find Back of the Net in 1-0 Home Defeat
After a two-hour weather delay got the action started late, Sky Blue FC (9-5-4, 31 points) was bested by FC Kansas City (10-4-5, 35 points) at Yurcak Field on Sunday night, thanks to a 76th minute notch from late substitution Courtney Jones, 1-0. With the result, FC Kansas City increased its league-leading total to 35 points, firmly positioning itself in first place on the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Table while Sky Blue FC is knotted up with Portland Thorns FC in the second place spot.
“We find ourselves in a bit of a slump, but we are a very solid defensive team that always battles despite the circumstances,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra remarked. “Injuries have forced us to rely more on some players who have a little less experience, but that is something that happens to a team throughout the course of a season. We just have to remain focused over this final stretch of the season to make sure we are putting ourselves in the best situation as the playoffs approach.”
In the 10th minute of this match, Sky Blue FC created a significant chance off a free kick that defender Coco Goodson fed to team captain Christie Rampone on the right flank. The New Jersey native then took a few touches before sending the ball forward where midfielder Katy Freels gathered it and brought it back out from the left side of the box. She then chipped it right onto a speeding Lisa De Vanna in front of the goal, but FC Kansas City netminder Nicole Barnart aggressively came out and jumped onto the ball to prevent any damage from occurring.
As the action continued throughout the opening session, both teams began adjusting to the slick conditions to increase the overall pace of the match. Each side was creating its share of opportunities, but both goalkeepers rose to the occasion and kept the slates clean. When the halftime whistle was blown, this game remained scoreless.
The rain returned during the intermission, but the two teams did not let that deter their motivation to find the go-ahead tally. After some solid back-and-forth play, it was FC Kansas City that would finally get on the board first in the 76th minute. Prior to that scoring play, forward Lauren Holiday fired a shot from 25 yards deep that Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron was forced to athletically punch over the top crossbar. Once the ensuing corner kick on the right flag was cleared away by the defense to set up one on the opposite side of the field, Holiday stepped over the ball and delivered it right in front of the goal. There awaiting distribution was 74th minute substitution Courtney Jones, who was able to get a foot on the ball to direct it into the net. With 13 minutes remaining until stoppage time, the visiting side possessed a 1-0 advantage.
In the 85th minute, Sky Blue FC nearly acquired the equalizer after Freels worked her way into the box before chipping a feed to striker Danesha Adams, who was standing about three feet off the far post. Adams then chested the ball once it arrived, and she quickly booted it towards the frame. However, Barnhart was again in the right spot, making a diving save of the attempt.
FC Kansas City nearly extended its lead when this match entered stoppage time on a play that Jones was able to go on a run down the left flank and weave her way around Cameron to find the open net in front of her. She then struck a shot that began to roll into the direction of the goal, but Sky Blue FC defender Lindsi Cutshall was somehow able to run down the ball and clear it right before it touched the end line.
“I just wanted to keep us in the game,” Cutshall said of the play. “Doing whatever it took for me to try and save that ball was the only thing running through my mind. A 2-0 lead over a 1-0 lead is a lot harder to come back from.”
Sky Blue FC then attempted to garner up some late momentum, but the 1-0 scoreline would remain standing when the final whistle concluded this match.
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a road contest this Wednesday, July 31st, when it finishes out its season series with Portland Thorns FC at 10:30 p.m. EST. The team will return home to Yurcak Field for its home finale on Saturday, August 3rd, hosting the Washington Spirit at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that game are available now and can be purchased by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (723-2849).