Normally a midfielder, Kim DeCesare started up top for Sky Blue FC tonight.
Spirit Forward Francisca Ordega Finishes Ball in 92nd Minute for Game-Winner of 1-0 Match
Despite putting forth its best collective effort of the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League season, Sky Blue FC (1-3-2, 5 points) suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of host Washington Spirit (3-2-1, 10 points) at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday night, 1-0. Scoring the game-winner for the Spirit was Nigerian striker Francisca Ordega, who finished a Crystal Dunn assist with under a minute remaining in second half stoppage time.
“That was the best we have played all year, and the most chances that we have created all year,” said Jim Gabarra, Sky Blue FC Technical Director & Head Coach. “We had Maya Hayes, who had never played right back before in her life, probably put in the best job at that position of any player in the league so far this season. We had Kim DeCesare step in up front at the last minute, and she did a tremendous job of winning everything in the air and really putting their defense under pressure. I could not be any more proud of the way we played tonight. I am just disappointed for the players that they did not get what they truly deserved, and that is three points.”
In what proved to be a very good decision, Hayes was moved from her natural forward position to the defensive back line for this match, and her assignment was to stick to Dunn. The New Jersey native did an incredible job of taking Dunn out of the run of play throughout the majority of this contest, showing veteran savvy at a position completely foreign to her.
Sky Blue FC found itself with an early opportunity in this match, as Washington netminder Kelsey Wys gave away a ball inside the penalty area that was collected by midfielder Katy Freels. With a dangerous look on goal, Freels then ripped a shot towards the frame that was knocked away by Wys and then finally cleared by defender Megan Oyster in just the third minute of play.
The momentum then shifted to the other side of the field, where the Spirit earned a short free kick in the 6th minute. After being struck towards the frame, Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Brittany Cameron was forced to make a diving save of a Whitney Church header that was punched out for a corner kick. On the ensuing corner kick by midfielder Angela Salem, Joanna Lohman struck a hard shot that hit the crossbar and went out of bounds for a goal kick.
Continually turning up the tempo in the first half was Danish striker Nadia Nadim, who was both creating chances and finding herself on the receiving end of some legitimate opportunities. In one such chance in the 33rd minute, Nadim hit a well-struck ball that Wys was forced to punch over the bar. After Shawna Gordon put the ensuing corner kick into play, first-year defender Kristin Grubka nearly answered on a strike that Wys was again able to keep clean of the goal.
Collectively in the first half, Sky Blue FC saw the better of the possession and the game’s offensive chances. The New Jersey side then continued that momentum into the second half, truly dominating the action but was simply unable to find the back of the net.
Unfortunately for Sky Blue FC, it would be the Spirit that finally broke the deadlock. In the 92nd minute of play, Dunn stepped into a situation where she was able to play a ball over the top of Cameron in the penalty area. There awaiting the distribution was Ordega, who quickly chipped it over and tapped it in for the game-winner.
The lone tally by Ordega would prove to be enough for the Spirit, which took the season series and a critical three points following the stoppage time conversion.
Despite the loss, Sky Blue FC saw some very encouraging statistics accumulate from this match-up. On the evening, it had registered a total of 21 shots to just nine for Washington. The 21 shots were just 15 shy of the team’s 2015 total in its preceding five games combined (36). The New Jersey club also recorded a season-high eight corner kicks tonight, entering the match with just 16 over its first five contests.
Sky Blue FC will again be on the road next weekend in Boston before returning to Yurcak Field on Sunday, May 31st, to host the Houston Dash at 3:00 PM EST. Individual game tickets for that match 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. Washington Spirit
May 16, 2015 – Maryland SoccerPlex
Sky Blue FC: 0-0-0
WAS 92 F.Ordega (C.Dunn)
SBFC – B.Cameron, K.Grubka, H.Haagsma, L.Cutshall, C.Levin, K.Freels, K.DeCesare (L.LaBonta-75), T.Lytle (M.Waldus-82), S.Gordon (L.LaBonta-71), M.Hayes, N.Nadim
Substitutes Not Used: A.Bledsoe, N.Stanton, S.Killion, G.Wagner
WAS: K.Wys, E.Johnson, M.Oyster, K.Reynolds, T.Huster, W.Church, J.Lohman (L.del Rio-46), A.Salem (A.Da Costa-82), C.Dunn, C.Nairn, F.Ordega
Substitutes: C.Miller, Lillard, A.Singer, T.Weimer, C.Dydasco