Sky Blue FC's Heather O'Reilly fights off Boston defender Amy LePeilbet (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Highly Contested Match Results in One Point Split
Somerset, N.J. (Saturday, May 29, 2010) – Both Sky Blue FC (3-2-2, 11 points) and the Boston Breakers (1-2-4, 7 points) had its offensive firepower working tonight at Yurcak Field, but the end result of this highly contested match was a scoreless draw. Sky Blue FC did have two faces return to the pitch tonight from injury in forward Tasha Kai and defender Meg Schnur, and both players made major contributions to the action.
“We played a little bit more comfortable in the back, and we showed an ability to make plays on the offensive end because we have options up top,” Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen commented after the game. “Our speed up top presents a very hard match-up for opposing teams.”
Sky Blue FC came out fast and furious from the back line all the way to the offensive front in this match, and the speed of play was at a very high pace from the opening whistle. It did not take long to create an opportunity, with Schnur immediately making her presence known in her first minutes since the second game of the season. The UConn product received a ball on the left flank in the early-going and quickly sped down the field into some open real estate. She then crossed the ball to the center of the field where forward Kiersten Dallstream was awaiting her distribution and nearly gave the home team the go-ahead goal.
The next chance for Sky Blue FC came just minutes later when captain Kacey White spun on her defender and chipped a ball forward to a streaking Heather O’Reilly, who was making her second consecutive start at forward. The East Brunswick native then one-touched the feed into space past Breaker goalkeeper Ashley Phillips for a shot on goal, but the angle was too tight to score her ensuing attempt.
“I have a lot of fun playing striker,” O’Reilly stated at the end of the night. “The thing I find most enjoyable about the game is being right on the restraining line. That being said, I’ll do whatever the team needs me to do in terms of position, whether it’s in the midfield or up top.”
The speed of play began to even out a bit after those high-strung opening minutes, but Sky Blue FC continued to create its opportunities. The team looked very cohesive throughout the half and kept its high work rate, but the Breakers were able to hold on and keep it scoreless. After 45 minutes of play, this match had yet to see its first goal.
Checking in at the half for her first minutes since the third game of the season was Kai, who immediately made an impact on the action. In the 47th minute, she stole a ball in the midfield and then raced through the center of the Boston defense before dishing a feed to O’Reilly. The UNC graduate then found a small opening on the right side of the box, but Phillips was there to make a diving save of the attempt. The following minutes were more of the same, with the duo of O’Reilly and Kai continuing to create on the offensive end.
“I was out there trying to put my team up and do whatever I could to help,” Kai remarked. “Whatever my role is, I’m going to do it – the team comes before me. Even if I only play 10 minutes, I’m going to come in and play the best 10 minutes I can possibly give.”
The Breakers began to up the offensive output of its attack in the second half, and some pretty scary moments occurred in the Sky Blue FC box. However, the back line of Schnur, Brittany Taylor, Daphne Koster and India Trotter held its ground on some great opportunities for Boston, with goalkeeper Karen Bardsley coming up big in his game yet again. The eventual shutout was Bardsley’s league-leading fourth of the season.
“She’s the backbone of this team,” Miettinen said of Bardsley. “Even when we have something dangerous going on, I’m not too concerned because I have so much confidence in her. She’s definitely someone we know we can rely on, and I have no doubt that she will be there to make the saves.”
The final minutes of this outing called on Bardsley to stop a few more of those aforementioned dangerous plays, and the Boston defense did the same on its end of the field. Once 90 minutes were in the books, both sides added one point to their season accumulation.
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a road pairing with the Philadelphia Independence next Sunday at 6:00 p.m. The team will return to New Jersey on Saturday, June 19th, to host Philadelphia, and tickets for that game are available now by calling 1-888-SBFC-TIX.