Photo by Robyn McNeil, ISI Photos.
Sam Kerr Scores Late Equalizer in 1-1 Match at Yurcak Field
Sky Blue FC (6-7-5, 23 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Wednesday night, drawing level with the Orlando Pride (6-11-1, 19 points) at Yurcak Field, 1-1. Australia international Sam Kerr scored the lone tally for Sky Blue FC in the match, claiming Pine Belt of Lakewood Player of the Match accolades.
“We cannot ask for anything more of the players who stepped onto the field tonight,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “They showed complete application from the first whistle to the final whistle. We were a little slow-starting, but we truly found another gear in the second half to cause a lot of problems for them and nearly step away with three points.”
Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Caroline Casey was immediately forced into action in the early-going of this contest, making some aggressive plays off her line that initially kept the slate clean for the host side.
However, Orlando would eventually open the scoring in the 23rd minute, as Maddy Evans collected distribution on her defensive side of the field before sending a ball to the top of the Pride attack. There to race onto the feed was forward Alex Morgan, who quickly one-timed a left-footed strike past an outstretched Casey to make it 1-0 in favor of the visitors.
That 1-0 score line remained when the two clubs broke for the intermission, but Sky Blue FC returned from the locker rooms in the second half with a reenergized ambition to find the equalizer, eventually making good on an opportunity in the 80th minute.
On that scoring sequence, Kerr was played a ball in the center circle that she volleyed forward to a racing Maya Hayes. Immediately after sending the ball upfield, she sped onto a run inside the left side of the penalty area while Hayes gathered the feed and carried it into a 1v1 situation with Pride netminder Ashlyn Harris. Seeing the space in front of her, Hayes stepped into a right-footed strike, only to see Harris extend and make a foot save of the shot attempt. As the ball deflected off Harris, Kerr then ran onto the scene and one-touched the rebound into the back of the net, making it a level 1-1 contest.
Sky Blue FC did receive a late scare in second half stoppage time, as Orlando forward Jasmyne Spencer was able to get off a point blank shot inside the penalty area. Initially making a spectacular save of her attempt was Casey, but the ball then began to curl back towards the goal line. Before any damage could occur, defender Kristin Grubka was able to boot it from danger while facing her own goal, falling to her back and sending the ball the other direction to seal the 1-1 draw.
Note: Following the 1-1 result in this game, coupled with a 2-2 draw between the Western New York Flash and Boston Breakers, Sky Blue FC has been officially eliminated from postseason contention.
Sky Blue FC plays the back end of a home-and-home series with the Pride this Saturday night in Orlando before returning home to New Jersey for its 2016 season finale on Sunday, Sept. 25th, hosting Portland Thorns FC at Yurcak Field. Tickets for that match are available now, and all fans who eat at Quaker Steak & Lube in Edison before the game will receive free parking for the match.
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.
To keep up with 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. Orlando Pride
Date: September 7, 2016
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 82 degrees, partly cloudy
NJ: 0 1 - 1
ORL: 1 0 - 1
23 ORL Alex Morgan (Maddy Evans)
80 NJ Sam Kerr
NJ: Casey; Skroski, Rampone, Grubka, Simon; Galton, Lytle (Stanton-54), Killion (Rodriguez-76), Kerr; Kai, Hayes
Subs not used: Stanley, Goodson, DeCesare, Gordon, Conheeney
Head Coach: Christy Holly
ORL: Harris, Levin, Monica, Kyle, Belanger, Evans (Hagen-75), Edmonds, Weatherholt, Witteman (Spencer-62), Morgan, Fields (De Vanna-88)
Subs Not Used: Savage, Berryhill, Pressley, Burkenroad
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni
Stats Summary: NJ / ORL
Shots: 17 / 16
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves: 4 / 5
Corner Kicks: 3 / 3
Fouls: 13 / 5
Offside: 7 / 2
90+ NJ Nikki Stanton (Yellow)
Referee: Matthew Franz
Assistant Referee 1: Rachel Smith
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Vazquez
Fourth Official: Rosario Candela
Pine Belt of Lakewood Player of the Match: Sam Kerr