Midfielder Sarah Killion and Sky Blue FC fought the Dash to a 1-1 draw (Photo by Robyn McNeil).
First Half Tally by Katy Freels Matched by Jessica McDonald in Second Half
Sky Blue FC (1-0-1, 4 points) opened up its 2015 home slate on Saturday, playing the visiting Houston Dash (1-0-1, 4 points) to a 1-1 draw at Yurcak Field. Sky Blue FC got on the scoreboard first with a 14th minute tally by midfielder Katy Freels, only to see Houston respond with a 52nd minute notch from forward Jessica McDonald to hang the final count.
“We would love to have maintained our momentum and got the win at home, but I feel that a tie is a fair result,” said Jim Gabarra, Sky Blue FC Technical Director & Head Coach. “In all honesty, we were more likely to concede a goal there at the end than we were to score. I am happy with the team for being able to hold on with some players out of position and in different roles.”
In the 14th minute of this contest, Sky Blue FC opened up the scoring. Danish striker Nadia Nadim first collected in the midfield before turning up and racing into the penalty area. To her left, defender Kelley O’Hara made an overlapping run, and Nadim quickly fed her in space. O’Hara then took a touch before placing the ball perfectly in front of the frame, where midfielder Katy Freels was there to fire a hard shot into the back of the net to make it 1-0 in favor of the home club.
The two sides continued to pace the action back-and-forth over the remaining minutes of the opening half, and Houston eventually leveled the count in the 52nd minute. On the play, Dash midfielder Morgan Brian gathered on the right flank before sending a well struck through-ball to a racing Jessica McDonald ahead of her. McDonald was able to run onto the distribution to put a curling strike on it, and her shot lofted over the outstretched arms of Cameron to knot it up at a goal each.
The goal seemed to turn the momentum in favor of the visiting Dash, with forward Kealia Ohai and McDonald creating some dangerous opportunities. However, the Sky Blue FC defense and goalkeeper Brittany Cameron were able to prevent any additional tallies from being recorded to eventually walk away with the point.
“In the first half, we played well and were able to keep it out of the back much better. We struggled significantly with that in Kansas City last week,” Freels stated after the game. “As a team, we just need to continue getting better. Once they put a little more pressure on us, we resorted to the long ball or trying to play against them out of the back. When they are pressing, that’s a time we can expose them if we have some good passes through the midfield and up to the front. It’s good that we are not getting complacent early in the season and can see both the positives and negatives. However, we do need to get better if we want to truly become the team we want to be.”
With the draw, a franchise-record six-game winning streak comes to close for Sky Blue FC. While the one streak ends, the New Jersey side has now gone seven matches without a loss, a new team record.
Sky Blue FC will return to Yurcak Field on Sunday, April 26th, hosting the Washington Spirit at 6:00 PM EST. Individual game tickets are on sale now. Make sure you catch all of the world class NWSL action this season at Yurcak Field by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849)!
Sky Blue FC vs. Houston Dash
April 18, 2015 – Yurcak Field
Piscataway, New Jersey
Sky Blue FC: 1-0-1
Houston Dash: 1-0-1
SBFC 14 K.Freels (K.O’Hara)
HOU 52 J.McDonald (M.Brian)
SBFC – B.Cameron, C.Rampone (L.LaBonta-68), K.Grubka, L.Cutshall, C.Levin, K.O'Hara, K.Freels, S.Killion, S.Gordon (K.DeCesare-78), M.Hayes, N.Nadim (M.Morris-46)
Substitutes Not Used: A.Bledsoe, N.Stanton, T.Diederich
HOU: E.McLeod, L.Sesselmann (S.Ochs-46), M.Brian, K.Ohai, C.Lloyd, J.McDonald, A.Chapman T.McCarty-80), A.Nick, N.Cross, M.Henderson (E.Masar-56), M.Klingenberg
Substitutes Not Used: B.Henninger, R.Axon
SBFC 90 K.Freels (Yellow Card)