Photo by Roy K. Miller, ISI Photos.
Sam Kerr Scores in Fourth Straight Match, Maya Hayes Tallies Game-Winner
Sky Blue FC (7-7-5, 26 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday night, rallying from a one-goal deficit to defeat the Orlando Pride (6-12-1, 19 points) at Camping World Stadium, 2-1. In the match, forward Sam Kerr scored a goal in her fourth consecutive contest, while Maya Hayes registered the game-winner in the 53rd minute.
“In the first half, we displayed a nice level of control despite going down a goal,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “At halftime, we asked for a response from the team, and the type of effort and character we saw in the second half pretty much sums up everything we know about them. We are proud of the performance that every single player showed, and they truly earned the win tonight over a very tough Orlando team.”
The opening half-hour saw some good back-and-forth action that was initiated by a battle for possession in the midfield. In the 28th minute, Sky Blue FC created a nice opportunity on a free kick that was taken in the center of the field by Sarah Killion, who delivered a long ball for a racing Kerr on the left flank. The Australia international then cut back inside to create some space on her defender before firing a hard shot that was wide of the near post.
Sky Blue FC was presented with another dangerous chance in the 34th minute, as Hayes carried possession down the open left flank before crossing to the mouth of the frame. There awaiting distribution was Erica Skroski, but Orlando defender Cami Levin knocked it away before Skroski could strike. The ball then landed at the feet of Kerr, who played U.S. international Kelley O’Hara on her right side. However, the ensuing shot from O’Hara was off the mark, and the match remained scoreless.
It would eventually be the Pride that opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, as defender Kristen Edmonds stepped over a deep free kick opportunity for her team. Off the free kick, she delivered a strike that curled over the Sky Blue FC wall and hit the right upper 90, making it 1-0 in favor of Orlando just before the intermission.
Sky Blue FC came out of the locker rooms at halftime with a thunderous aggression, instantly leveling this match before claiming the lead.
In the 48th minute, O’Hara sent a ball to Killion on the left flank, who tapped it to Kai before she gave it up to Kerr on top of the penalty area. Kerr then engaged upon an incredible sequence that saw her dance through six defenders with the ball at her feet to open up space in front of the goal. As soon as Harris tried to react to her run, Kerr quickly hammered a shot past her to equalize the tally at one apiece.
Just five minutes after leveling the count, Sky Blue FC struck again. On that scoring play, Hayes raced into the box with the ball and found herself in a 1v1 scenario with Harris. Initially, Hayes tried to slot an attempt under Harris, but the Pride netminder was able to deflect her try. Before Harris had a chance to collect the loose ball, Hayes gathered and tapped it around her before striking it into the back of the net to give the road side a 2-1 edge.
The 76th minute saw another great sequence for the visiting side, as O’Hara collected possession on the right side of the midfield before lofting a well-struck ball towards the penalty area that was quickly redirected off the head of Kerr. The only thing preventing her header from finding the back of the net was a diving save by Harris, which kept the game at 2-1.
That same score line would then remain until the final whistle, giving Sky Blue FC three road points and the season series over Orlando.
In addition to scoring in her fourth consecutive match, Kerr now has a team-leading five goals and has recorded 11 goals in just 17 NWSL games played with Sky Blue FC over the past two seasons. Additionally, Sky Blue FC has now scored in 10 straight contests, a current NWSL high.
Sky Blue FC will play its final game of the 2016 season on Sunday, Sept. 25th, welcoming Portland Thorns FC to Yurcak Field at 7:00 p.m. 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.
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. Orlando Pride
Date: September 10, 2016
Venue: Camping World Stadium; Orlando, Florida
Weather: 84 degrees, partly cloudy
NJ: 0 2 - 2
ORL: 1 0 - 1
42’ ORL Kristen Edmonds
48’ NJ Sam Kerr
53’ NJ Maya Hayes
NJ: Casey; Skroski, Rampone, Grubka, Simon; Hayes (Gordon-74), Rodriguez, Killion, Kerr; Kai (Goodson-82), O’Hara
Subs not used: Stanley, DeCesare, Conheeney, Schulmann
Head Coach: Christy Holly
ORL: Harris, Levin, Monica, Kyle, Belanger (Pressley-38), Spencer, Weatherholt (Alleway-79), Edmonds, De Vanna (Fields-61), Morgan, Hagen
Subs Not Used: Savage, Evans, Witteman, Burkenroad
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni
Stats Summary: NJ / ORL
Shots: 8 / 9
Shots on Goal: 4 / 3
Saves: 1 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 11 / 10
Offside: 2 / 1
49’ NJ Christie Rampone (Yellow)
70’ ORL Toni Pressley (Yellow)
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee 1: Nick Uranga
Assistant Referee 2: Alicia Messer
Fourth Official: Christina Unkel
Pine Belt of Lakewood Player of the Match: Maya Hayes