Photo by Robyn McNeil, ISI Photos.
Midfielder Sarah Killion Converts First Half Penalty Kick in Draw
Sky Blue FC (2-3-3, 9 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday night, playing FC Kansas City (1-4-3, 6 points) to a 1-1 draw at Yurcak Field. Scoring the lone tally for Sky Blue FC in the contest was midfielder Sarah Killion, with defender Kristin Grubka claiming Pine Belt of Lakewood Player of the Match honors.
“It is a bit frustrating that we did not take the full three points tonight,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We had some really good moments, and our consistency continues to improve overall. Our team has been putting in better performances with each passing week, and that is a measure of where they are and where they want to be.”
Sky Blue FC appeared to have gained an early lead in the 15th minute on a series that was started by defender Erica Skroski, who crossed a ball into the area from the right flank. As it arrived, forward Kim DeCesare put an athletic header on the feed that FC Kansas City netminder Nicole Barnhart was barely able to touch with her fingertips. The ball then deflected off the crossbar and appeared to pass the end line inside the goal, but the referee called for play to resume.
In the 27th minute, FC Kansas City was able to put the first goal of the evening on the board after midfielder Erika Tymrak sent a hard roller across the top of the 18-yard box to forward Shea Groom on her right. Groom then stepped into the distribution and struck a hard left-footed shot that found the back of the net, hanging a 1-0 score line.
Sky Blue FC quickly responded in the 30th minute after midfielder Sarah Killion sent a ball over the top of the FC Kansas City defense for U.S. international Kelley O’Hara, who was taken down inside the area by midfielder Heather O’Reilly. The referee then pointed to the spot for a Sky Blue FC penalty kick, where Killion calmly stepped over the ball and hammered it into the left-side netting to level the count at one apiece.
After the equalizing tally, both teams continued to battle frantically for the go-ahead notch. Holly made three strategic substitutions in the second half in an effort to create more offensive firepower, first bringing on British international Leah Galton and forward Tasha Kai before Australian striker Sam Kerr made her first appearance of the season in the 75th minute. Kerr had been sidelined following offseason foot surgery and immediately began to shake things up when she got onto the pitch.
“The first thing I said to Sam before she went into the game was just enjoy it. Have fun,” Holly remarked. “She has worked so hard to get herself back onto the field. Just by being out there, she gives her teammates a huge burst of confidence, both in terms of who she is as a person as well as a player. We cannot wait to see what she does now that she is fully healthy again.”
Despite the determined efforts of Kerr and the Sky Blue FC attack to find the go-ahead score in this match-up, the end result after the final whistle would be a 1-1 result.
Next up for Sky Blue FC is the team’s 2016 Pride Night next Sunday evening when it hosts Seattle Reign FC for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff at Yurcak Field. Tickets for that match are available now.
Half-season, flex and individual tickets for Sky Blue FC are all on sale! 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.
For all of the latest news on Sky Blue FC, visit the team online and follow us on social media: @SkyBlueFC
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. FC Kansas City
Date: June 11, 2016
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, N.J.
Weather: 82 degrees, hot
NJ: 1 0 - 1
KC: 1 0 - 1
KC 27 Shea Groom (Erika Tymrak)
NJ 30 Sarah Killion (Penalty Kick)
NJ: Stanley; Stanley; O'Hara, Rampone, Skroski, Grubka; Rodriguez, Killion, Gordon (Galton-57), Conheeney; Lytle (Kerr-75), DeCesare (Kai-67)
Subs not used: Casey, Simon, Goodson, Stanton
Head Coach: Christy Holly
KC: Barnhart; Newfield (Silva-57), Sauerbrunn, Taylor, Arlitt; Scott, Averbuch, Laddish; Tymrak (McCarty-75), Groom (Kastor-87), O’Reilly
Subs not used: Parkhill, LaBonta, Bowen, Reed
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Stats Summary: NJ / KC
Shots: 7 / 13
Shots on Goal: 4 / 4
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 5 / 7
Fouls: 10 / 14
Offside: 2 / 1
Referee: Karen Abt
Assistant Referee 1: Adrienne McDonald
Assistant Referee 2: Ian McKay
Fourth Official: Jorge Ramirez
Pine Belt of Lakewood Player of the Match: Kristin Grubka