Kai hit the game-winner in the 52nd minute (Photo by Howard C.Smith - ISI Photos).
Sky Blue FC Defeats Chicago Red Stars at Toyota Park, 1-0
Bridgeview, Ill. (Sunday, April 25, 2010) – Sky Blue FC (2-1-0, 6 points) was able to overcome some tough playing conditions tonight to take three points on the road, defeating the Chicago Red Stars (0-2-1, 1 point) at Toyota Park by a count of 1-0. For the second time this season, forward Tasha Kai provided the game-winner for her club over the Red Stars after netting a Kacey White assist in the 52nd minute.
“This is huge for us as a team,” Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen said after the game. “For us to go on the road, fight through the elements and take the victory says a lot about our character. This is a win that will certainly build the confidence of our team.”
Facing severe wind and rain meant that players would have to back up one another on the pitch, and in no place was this more evident than on the Sky Blue FC back line.
“As a unit, we played much more disciplined,” Miettinen continued. “We showed the willingness to sacrifice ourselves when necessary. We were constantly getting in front of the ball to block shots and never gave up on defense. The team fought for this win, and I am proud of our efforts.”
The wind was the biggest factor in the early-going of this match, and the strong gusts played a role in slowing the pace just a bit. In the 5th minute of the game, Sky Blue FC earned its first corner kick of the evening, and midfielder Carli Lloyd struck a ball just slightly off target on the ensuing kick. The visiting side remained on the attack on the following possession, and Kai delivered a powerful shot that was turned away by Chicago goalkeeper Jillian Loyden.
The first break in the action came in the 18th minute when Lloyd was issued a yellow card after a hard tackle of Red Star forward Cristiane. However, the play did not cost her team, and the Delran native continued to help create opportunities on the offensive end. In the 27th minute of the match, a scare was sent throughout the Sky Blue FC sideline when Lloyd suffered an apparent ankle injury on an aggressive play. She was then replaced on the pitch by midfielder Kacey White and will be evaluated by the Sky Blue FC medical staff before a prognosis is made on her injury.
The team maintained its aggressive approach during the final portion of the opening half, and Kai nearly gave Sky Blue FC an advantage in the 44th minute. After being fed a ball from outside the box, she struck it towards the net, but Loyden was able to send it over the crossbar following a fingertip save.
As the rain began to pour down on Toyota Park, the second half whistle was blown. In the 52nd minute, White fed a ball to a streaking Kai down the center of the field. The Hawaii native then fought through on a breakaway with Loyden, who was forced to come off her post. Once Kai saw her opening, she chipped the ball over Loyden’s head to put the first goal of the night on the scoreboard, 1-0.
The second half of play saw solid recovery from the entire back line of Sky Blue FC, with Meghan Schnur and Daphne Koster clearing away a handful of offensive opportunities for Chicago. Defenders Brittany Taylor and Keeley Dowling also played aggressive roles on the defensive end. Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Karen Bardsley continued to look very comfortable in goal for her team, and the English National Team netminder certainly earned her second shutout of the season against the Red Stars. There were a few late scares for the visiting side, but an impressive group effort led to picking up three critical points on the road.
Sky Blue FC now improves to 5-0-1 over Chicago over the past two seasons, and the team has yet to give up a goal to the Red Stars. For the year, Sky Blue FC is now 2-1-0 and sits atop the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Standings even with FC Gold Pride (2-1-0) at six points.
This Saturday, May 1st, marks the return of the team to Yurcak Field when it will host FC Gold Pride of the Bay Area at 6:00 p.m. On a limited basis, fans can purchase an exclusive ticket package to have their photo taken with Brazilian playmakers Marta and Rosana following the match. To purchase tickets today, call 1-888-SBFC-TIX or visit the team’s official website at www.skybluefc.com.