Kalmari hit a pair of goals in just four minutes today (Photo by Michael Pimentel, ISI Photos).
Aluko Equalizes in 85th Minute for Saint Louis Athletica
St. Louis (Sunday, May 16, 2010) – Sky Blue FC (3-2-1, 10 points) came ever so close to capturing its third straight road victory today at Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park, but an 85th minute goal by Saint Louis Athletica (3-1-2, 9 points) forward Eniola Aluko forced the team to settle for a 2-2 draw. Leading the attack for Sky Blue FC was Finnish international Laura Kalmari, who buried a pair of goals in this match.
“The biggest positive that we take away from this game is that we played for a full 90 minutes,” Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen stated. “This is an emotional game, so it’s only natural to be a little upset that a late goal prevents us from getting the three points. At the same time, we played very cohesively today as a team, and we should feel good about the direction we are headed.”
Miettinen shook things up a bit in the Sky Blue FC lineup today, most notably by starting Heather O’Reilly up top with Kiersten Dallstream. India Trotter, who was recently acquired via a trade with Saint Louis Athletica, made her first start for Sky Blue FC on the team’s back line.
“Heather and Kiersten gave us solid performances today up top, and their speed contributed to many opportunities for us,” Miettinen said. “Throughout the field, the team worked very well with one another.”
Saint Louis Athletica drew the first opportunity in this match when it was awarded a penalty kick after a tackle by Sky Blue FC midfielder Yael Averbuch of Brazilian midfielder Elaine in the 8th minute. Midfielder Shannon Boxx then stepped over the ball for Saint Louis Athletica, and the California native was able to score the attempt to make it 1-0.
Sky Blue FC did not allow the penalty kick to lead to an ensuing letdown, and the team quickly began to fight for the equalizer. Dallstream began using her speed to her benefit, and the Washington State product was able to create some scoring opportunities for her team. Averbuch also became a fixture in setting up the Sky Blue FC attack, particularly with some dangerous corner kicks, but Saint Louis Athletica goalkeeper Hope Solo and her back line were able to keep the first half slate clean. On the other side of the field, Sky Blue FC netminder Karen Bardsley continued her strong play behind a well operated defense.
Dallstream continued to show superb hustle at the start of the second half, and her efforts paid dividends in the 57th minute. With the ball at her feet, she was able to beat the Saint Louis Athletica defense to the corner and sent a feed towards the top of the penalty box to Kalmari, who had perfect positioning to head home the equalizer.
Sky Blue FC remained on the attack following that notch, and the team was able to make the most of another chance that arose just four minutes later. O’ Reilly raced down the right flank with the ball and quickly crossed it to the center of the field once she saw her opportunity. Again waiting for the feed was Kalmari, who put away the ball for her second goal in four minutes. The score was also her team-leading third tally on the season.
“Laura was extremely solid for us today,” Miettinen commented. “Her fitness level is to the point where she could easily play 120 minutes, and she is truly a difference maker. She has an ability to put herself in situations that are dangerous for the opposing team, and she capitalized on that today by scoring two goals.”
With a tight edge on the scoreboard, Sky Blue FC looked to take a defensive mind frame at this point to slow the advances of the Saint Louis Athletica attack. The focus was successful for the majority of the half until Boxx was able to gather possession in the midfield in the 85th minute and turned her momentum upfield. As she closed in on the Sky Blue FC defense, she fed a ball through through the middle for Aluko, who slipped it past Bardsley for the equalizer.
The offense of Sky Blue FC turned up the volume in the remaining minutes, but the 2-2 result remained when the whistle blew to conclude this match.
Sky Blue FC will next play when it returns home to Yurcak Field to host 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.