Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer, ISI Photos.
Forward Tasha Kai Provides First Half Goal for Sky Blue FC in Eventual 2-1 Result
Sky Blue FC (3-4-4, 13 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday night, falling to top-ranked Portland Thorns FC (7-0-5, 26 points) at Providence Park, 2-1. Sky Blue FC got out to a 1-0 lead in the match following a first-half tally from forward Tasha Kai, but Portland was able to level the encounter before the intermission and then score the game-winner via a 61st minute penalty kick.
“We started very well tonight and could have gone into the locker room at halftime with an extra goal or two,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “As the game wore on, we began to show signs of the flight in our legs. To the credit of our players, they pushed through it and truly left everything they had on the field. Unfortunately, we just could not get that second goal that we probably deserved.”
After a series of early offensive threats by the Sky Blue FC attack, goalkeeper Caroline Stanley came up big for her team in the 13th minute. A ball was played over the top of the New Jersey back line for Thorns forward Nadia Nadim, who immediately stepped into a 1v1 situation. Nadim then briefly hesitated with the ball at her feet, and Stanley aggressively closed her down and took it away before she could get a shot off.
Sky Blue FC was able to break the deadlock in the 29th minute on a series that was started by British international Leah Galton, who raced down the left flank with the ball before beating her defender and cutting inside. She then delivered a feed across the mouth of the frame, where it danced dangerously through the area before being collected by midfielder Taylor Lytle on the opposite side of the box. Lytle then turned and chipped it back towards Kai in the center of the area, and the Hawaiian striker was able to one-time it with her right foot to give Sky Blue FC a 1-0 advantage.
Portland was eventually able to find the equalizer in the 39th minute. On the scoring play, Nadim sent a corner kick into the area by the near post, where a charging Dagny Brynjarsdottir was able to go high and head it into the back of the net. On that sequence, a collision with Stanley forced her off the field, and Holly had to use his first substitute when he brought netminder Caroline Casey onto the pitch.
In the 61st minute, a whistle was blown on Sky Blue FC defender Erin Simon for taking down Thorns forward Hayley Raso from behind as she entered the 18-yard box, which granted Portland a penalty kick. Taking the ensuing try was Nadim, who was able to strike it into the left-side netting to make it 2-1 in favor of the hosts.
Over the final half-hour, Sky Blue FC fought with an incredible amount of grit and was able to create some dangerous opportunities on the offensive end of the pitch. Defensively, the team also stood strong and saw some solid goalkeeping from Casey. Unfortunately for the New Jersey side, the finishing piece remained just barely out of their grasp, and the Thorns were able to claim a 2-1 victory when the final whistle was blown.
With the result, Sky Blue FC saw a season-high four-game unbeaten streak come to a close.
Sky Blue FC team will now return to Yurcak Field on Saturday, July 9th, hosting the Houston Dash. Tickets for that match are available now. Additionally, all fans who eat at Quaker Steak & Lube in Edison before the game will receive free parking for the match.
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: Portland Thorns FC vs. Sky Blue FC
Date: July 2, 2016
Venue: Providence Park; Portland, Oregon
Weather: 77 degrees, sunny
POR: 1 1 - 2
NJ: 1 0 - 1
29 NJ Tasha Kai (Taylor Lytle)
39 POR Dagny Brynjarsdottir (Nadia Nadim)
61 POR Nadia Nadim (Penalty Kick)
NJ: Stanley (Casey-41); Simon, Grubka, Rampone, Skroski; Galton, Killion, Lytle, Rodriguez; Zimmerman (Hayes-73), Kai (Kerr-55)
Subs not used: Goodson, Gordon, Stanton
Head Coach: Christy Holly
POR: Betos, Weber, Reynolds, Menges, Berryhill, Brynjarsdottir, Henry, Boureille, Shim (Pratt-72), Raso (Lofton-90), Nadim (Fitzgerald-90)
Subs not used: Franch, Williamson
Head Coach: Mark Parsons
Stats Summary: POR / NJ
Shots: 13 / 11
Shots on Goal: 4 /
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 6
Offside: 4 / 3
45 NJ Rampone (Yellow)
66 POR Weber (Yellow)
Referee: Reyna Fonseca
Assistant Referee 1: Amanda Ross
Assistant Referee 2: Nick Uranga
Fourth Official: JJ Blodgett
Pine Belt of Lakewood Player of the Match: Taylor Lytle