Photo by Robyn McNeil, ISI Photos.
Sky Blue FC Opens Scoring, But Thorns Rally to 3-1 Result
Sky Blue FC (7-8-5, 26 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Sunday night, jumping out to an early lead against Portland Thorns FC (12-3-5, 41 points) at Yurcak Field before eventually falling in the match, 3-1. The outcome of the game resulted in the Thorns winning the 2016 NWSL Shield, while also officially bringing a conclusion to Sky Blue FC’s 2016 campaign.
“Obviously, this is not how we envisioned our season ending,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “However, this season has been a huge stepping stone for our club and has us moving in the right direction. We are very fortunate that every player on our team is an excellent representative of Sky Blue FC, and we could not be any more excited about next season.”
In the 6th minute of this contest, forward Sam Kerr collected possession in the midfield and tapped a feed to Tasha Kai on her right. The Hawaiian striker then played it back to Kerr on a run, and she raced into the penalty area before the ball was knocked away for a Sky Blue FC corner kick.
On the ensuing corner, U.S. international Kelley O’Hara placed a perfectly struck ball on the far post, where Kai went up high to aggressively put away a header and give Sky Blue FC the early 1-0 advantage.
Portland eventually leveled the count in the 41st minute after a foul set up a Tobin Heath free kick from about 25 yards out. On that set piece, Heath stepped over the try and curled a ball towards the frame that was redirected by midfielder Allie Long into the near side netting, making it a 1-1 tally.
Sky Blue FC nearly regained the lead in the 51st minute on a series that began with captain Christie Rampone sending a ball into the penalty area from the right flank. When it arrived inside the 18, Kai headed it to Kerr on her right, who struck a shot that was deflected by a defender. The rebound then rolled to the feet of midfielder Raquel Rodriguez, and the Costa Rica international fired a shot that was wide of the frame.
The Thorns acquired their first lead of the evening in the 57th minute, as midfielder Amandine Henry collected possession and raced through the center of the field before dealing Nadia Nadim on the left flank. Nadim then served up a ball to the mouth of the goal, where midfielder Lindsey Horan was there to head it into the net and make it a 2-1 contest.
The final tally of the evening came in the 84th minute, as Portland forward Hayley Raso collected on the left flank before sending a hard roller to Long in front of the goal. Long then quickly settled before turning on a shot that she was able to finish, giving her a brace for the match and hanging the final 3-1 score line.
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NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Portland Thorns FC
Date: September 25, 2016
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 64 degrees, cool
NJ: 1 0 - 1
POR: 1 2 - 3
6 NJ T.Kai (K.O’Hara)
41 POR A.Long (T.Heath)
57 POR L.Horan (N.Nadim)
84 POR A.Long (H.Raso)
NJ: Casey; Skroski, Rampone, Grubka, Simon; Kerr, Killion, Rodriguez (Stanton-75), O’Hara; Kai (Gordon-83), Hayes (Galton-66)
Subs not used: Stanley, Goodson, DeCesare, Conheeney
Head Coach: Christy Holly
POR: Betos, Reynolds, Sonnett, Menges, Klingenberg (Williamson-90+), Long, Henry, Nadim (Brynjarsdottir-70), Horan, Heath, Sinclair (Raso-83)
Subs Not Used: Franch, Boureille
Head Coach: Mark Parsons
Stats Summary: NJ / POR
Shots: 6 / 12
Shots on Goal: 3 / 5
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 6
Fouls: 8 / 6
Offside: 6 / 5
59 NJ Kristin Grubka (Yellow)
Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referee 1: Amilcar Sicaju
Assistant Referee 2: Ian McKay
Fourth Official: Rosario Candela