Christie Rampone and Tasha Kai reunite in New Jersey this season (Photo: Robyn McNeil).
New Jersey Club Plays Seattle Reign FC in Road Opener at 7:00 p.m.
Sky Blue FC will open its 2016 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) regular season schedule on Sunday night, kicking off on the road against Seattle Reign FC at 7:00 p.m. ET at Memorial Stadium. Hometown fans can also tune into the match, which will be airing live in HD via the official NWSL YouTube channel.
“We are very excited to finally put into play the work that we have done during the preseason,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We know that we have a big challenge ahead of us in Seattle. We certainly respect them, but we do not fear them. We look forward to putting the correct foot forward and building on this for the rest of the season.”
Sunday marks the professional head coaching debut of Holly, who was promoted to the position this past offseason after three years as a top assistant with Sky Blue FC. Opposite him on Sunday night will be Seattle boss Laura Harvey, who has been the recipient of the past two NWSL Coach of the Year Awards after leading her team to the best record in the league in consecutive seasons.
The unquestionable field general of the 2016 Sky Blue FC side will once again be defender Christie Rampone, who is one of the most decorated players in the history of international soccer. She will be rejoined by teammate Tasha Kai this season, with the duo being the only members on the club who were part of the 2009 Women’s Professional Soccer championship side. Kai will soon run up top with 2015 Sky Blue FC Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr, who accumulated the most goals on the New Jersey roster last year despite missing more than half of the season due to her participation with Australia in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The two playmakers will be accompanied by returning veteran Kim DeCesare and newcomer Danielle Schulmann, as well as English international Leah Galton once she completes her degree at Hofstra University in May.
Youth plays a prominent role on the Sky Blue FC roster, as the New Jersey club boasts many exciting young players who have quickly acclimated themselves to the professional stage. The team made Costa Rican international Raquel Rodriguez the second overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft earlier this year, and she brings to the club undeniable poise and a distinct status as a proven winner. In the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Rodriguez scored the first-ever goal for Costa Rica in tournament history and then followed that up with a college campaign in the fall that saw Penn State crowned national champions when she scored the game-winning goal over Duke in the final. She was also named the MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the best player in women’s college soccer. Rodriguez now looks to continue her success in the middle of the field for Sky Blue FC, joining another rapidly rising and highly talented player in Sarah Killion, who was the second overall selection by the New Jersey side in the 2015 NWSL College Draft. At the wing positions, Sky Blue FC saw the return of Ashley Nick to the roster this preseason, and she joins returning veterans Taylor Lytle, Nikki Stanton and Shawna Gordon, as well as a new face in Kelly Conheeney.
The final three draft picks from Sky Blue FC this past January also appear ready to make an impact on the league. While Galton aims to be an offensive threat for the squad, defender Erica Skroski, who helped lead Rutgers to a NCAA College Cup final four run and best season in program history this past fall, will jockey for minutes alongside a back line that features veterans Rampone, Maya Hayes, Kristin Grubka, CoCo Goodson, newcomer Erin Simon and a virtual wild card in Kelley O’Hara. The U.S. Women’s National player has proven that she can play at any position on the field and is capable of creating opportunities that stretch the entire length of the pitch.
The final draft selection of Sky Blue FC in January was All-American goalkeeper Caroline Casey, who will compete with Caroline Stanley as the starter between the pipes for the New Jersey club.
After this road contest with Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC will return to New Jersey next Sunday to host the Washington Spirit at 6:00 p.m. in its 2016 home opener at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. Tickets for that match are available now.
Season and individual tickets for Sky Blue FC are both on sale now! Season ticket packages start as low as $130 and can be purchased online today. For any questions regarding tickets, call the Sky Blue FC tickets department at 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849), and a team representative will be happy to assist you.
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