Sky Blue FC defender had a tall task of holding off Christine Sinclair tonight (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Sinclair Notch Provides Game-Winner in Highly Contested Match, 1-0
Piscataway, N.J. (Saturday, May 1, 2010) – Sky Blue FC (2-2-0, 6 points) and FC Gold Pride (3-1-0, 9 points) put on a show for the fans at Yurcak Field tonight, but it was the visiting side who took a 1-0 result in a hard-fought contest. The game-winner in the match was a Carrie Dew to Christine Sinclair tally in the 38th minute, and the FC Gold Pride defense was able to hold off a valiant attack from Sky Blue FC in the second half to preserve the victory.
“We created many good chances in the second half, and I think it was the best second half effort that we’ve had all season,” Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen stated after the match. “They put the ball over our heads many times when we played two weeks ago, and I think we were able to avoid that for the most part tonight.”
Following high temperatures in New Jersey during the day, the weather cooled down a bit for perfect game conditions by the time of kickoff. Both teams fought for opportunities in the opening minutes, and the Sky Blue FC backline did a nice job of cleaning up some early danger. The first offensive chance for the home team came in the 13th minute when captain Kacey White put a ball off the top of the crossbar from 20 yards out.
In the 35th minute, FC Gold Pride had a golden opportunity to take a lead following a take-down in the box by Sky Blue FC defender Daphne Koster of forward Kelley O’Hara. Head official Stephanie Toth issued a penalty kick, and midfielder Camille Abily stepped over the ball. The French native struck the ball to right side of the frame, but goalkeeper Karen Bardsley made a diving save to turn the shot away. Marta immediately sent a rebound back towards the goal, but Bardsley was again there to close down the attempt.
“For some reason, I just knew she was going to go to my left,” Bardsley said of the save. “I don’t know how I knew, but I had a very strong feeling about it. Luckily, my instincts were right on that shot.”
FC Gold Pride remained on the attack after that near-hit, and their offensive demeanor paid dividends in the 38th minute. It was then that Dew found some space on the left flank to tap a ball through to Sinclair, and the Canadian striker was able to put the ball into the back of the net. That lone tally placed a 1-0 count on the scoreboard when the two sides headed to the locker rooms at halftime.
Sky Blue FC came onto the pitch in the second half in heavy pursuit of the equalizer, and the hosts nearly got it in the 55th minute. White received a ball in the center of the field and fed it forward to a streaking Kiersten Dallstream, who had just come on for Rosana. Dallstream put a touch on the ball and unloaded a shot, but she was unable to put it past FC Gold Pride netminder Nicole Barnhart. Dallstream again found some space in the 61st minute and fought her way to right in front of the goal. She then looked to option the ball to midfielder Heather O’Reilly across the face of the goal, but the East Brunswick native did not have enough room to put the ball away.
FC Gold Pride had its next close call come in the 65th minute after Marta crossed a ball from the right side of the box. Sinclair was there to receive the feed, but an athletic save from Bardsley prevented a two-goal disadvantage. Sky Blue FC was then able to quickly regain its offensive composure in the following minutes and battled through for a handful of opportunities. Late drama came in the match when Sky Blue FC put contact on a corner kick in stoppage time, but FC Gold Pride was up to the task of holding on for the 1-0 victory.
Defensively, Sky Blue FC played well on the back line, with first-year starter Brittany Taylor playing with the savvy of a proven veteran. On many occasions tonight, it was four-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta who she had to contain.
“I think it’s almost that you can’t look at who the player in front of you is,” she said of defending. “Of course, you have to respect who you are defending, but at the same time, I have to respect who I am as a player and believe in myself.”
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a road pairing with the Atlanta Beat next Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m., and the match will be aired live on Fox Soccer Channel. Sky Blue FC returns home to Yurcak Field in four weeks when it hosts the Boston Breakers on Saturday, May 29th, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that game can be purchased now by calling 1-888-SBFC-TIX or visiting www.SkyBlueFC.com.