Photo by Jane Gershovich, ISI Photos.
Sarah Killion Finishes 62nd Minute Equalizer in 1-1 Result
Sky Blue FC (0-0-1, 1 point) opened its 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season on Saturday night, playing Seattle Reign FC (0-0-1, 1 point) to a 1-1 draw at Memorial Stadium. The New Jersey club saw significant production from its team throughout the pitch, with midfielder Sarah Killion finishing a penalty kick in the 62nd minute.
In her NWSL debut, Canada international Kailen Sheridan registered four saves, only yielding a single goal via a 56th minute penalty kick. Directly in front of her were two additional rookies (Kayla Mills, Mandy Freeman) and second-year player Erica Skroski, with the captain Christie Pearce anchoring the defensive front. For her performance and leadership, Pearce was named the Saker ShopRites Woman of the Match.
“We are definitely satisfied with the way we started the season,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “The quality of play was very pleasing, and it is something that really excites us moving forward. At the same time, we know that today was just the first step in what will be a season-long journey for this group of extremely talented and dedicated players.
Sky Blue FC truly dominated the opening half of this match-up, keeping the ball on their offensive side of the field for the majority of the period. In the first half alone, Sky Blue FC out-shot Seattle by a tally of 9-3, forcing Reign FC netminder Haley Kopmeyer to make six key saves.
Following a bit of back-and-forth play in the early going, Sky Blue FC began to settle into its offensive flow and created a great opportunity in the 17th minute. On a sequence that found forward Leah Galton with possession inside the box, the England international hammered a shot that demanded an athletic save by Kopmeyer.
In the 20th minute, Sky Blue FC created another scoring chance after crafting some great ball movement through the center of the park. The series eventually ended with Australian striker Sam Kerr receiving possession on the left flank before turning into the box and delivering a cross that was deflected for a corner. On the ensuing corner, U.S. international Kelley O’Hara put the ball into play, where it rolled out to the feet of midfielder Raquel Rodriguez on top of the 18. The Costa Rica international then stepped into a hard shot that forced a fingertip save from Kopmeyer.
The 31st minute saw O’Hara fed a ball just outside the penalty area. She then touched inside the box before firing a shot on target from a hard angle, but Kopmeyer was again there to turn it away.
Over the final 15 minutes of the opening half, Sky Blue FC continued to attack, regularly forcing Kopmeyer into action. A handful of creative chances were the result of the efforts by the New Jersey side, but Kopmeyer somehow took her team into the intermission with the match still scoreless.
Sky Blue FC looked to pick up right where it left off once the second half got underway, with Galton nearly opening her account in the 53rd minute by speeding past a defender and blasting a solid left-footed strike that Kopmeyer collected.
In the 56th minute, the deadlock was finally broken. After Seattle was awarded a penalty kick on a Megan Rapinoe trip inside the box, Rapinoe placed her ensuing penalty attempt into the right-side netting.
Sky Blue FC was able to retaliate in the 62nd minute. The successful sequence occurred after O’Hara was taken down inside the box while trying to receive a Kerr cross, with Sky Blue FC receiving its own penalty kick. Stepping over the penalty attempt was midfielder Sarah Killion, who calmly slotted it under Kopmeyer to even the count, 1-1.
With the game level after the Killion conversion, Sky Blue FC played like a team that was clearly not satisfied with just one point. In the 81st minute, Rodriguez received distribution from 25 yards deep, finding enough space in front of her to hammer a ball towards the frame that sailed just high of the mark.
Sky Blue FC again nearly found the go-ahead goal in the 88th minute, as Kerr was fed into space before firing a strike that forced another fingertip save by Kopmeyer.
When the final whistle blew to end this contest just minutes later, the 1-1 tally remained as both clubs would take home one point. With the result, Sky Blue FC continued its streak of never losing a match on NWSL Opening Weekend.
Sky Blue FC will now head to Boston next weekend to face the Breakers on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. The team will then play its 2017 regular season home opener when it hosts FC Kansas City on Sunday, April 30, at Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. Kickoff for that match is slated for 6:00 p.m., and tickets are available now online or by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849).
Sky Blue FC season, group and individual game tickets are on sale now! For any questions or to purchase 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. Additionally, tickets can also be purchased online.
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. Seattle Reign FC
Date: April 15, 2016
Venue: Memorial Stadium; Seattle, Washington
Weather: 57 degrees, partly cloudy
NJ: 0 | 1 - 1
SEA: 0 | 1 - 1
56 SEA Megan Rapinoe (Penalty Conversion)
62 NJ Sarah Killion (Penalty Conversion)
NJ Sheridan, Skroski, Freeman, Pearce, Mills, Galton (Hayes-82), Killion, Rodriguez, Lytle (Corboz-73), O’Hara, Kerr
Subs not used: Casey, Stanton, Simon
Head Coach: Christy Holly
SEA: Kopmeyer, Pickett, Barnes, McNabb, Mathias, Nairn (Dallstream-74), Yanez, Fishlock, Rapinoe (Stott-86), Elston (Utsugi-66), Kawasumi
Subs Not Used: Corsie, Reed, Schiffel, Johnson
Head Coach: Laura Harvey
Stats Summary: SEA / NJ
Shots: 11 / 17
Saves: 8 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 9
Fouls: 6 / 5
Offside: 5 / 3
62 SEA Merritt Mathias (Yellow Card)
Referee: Karen Abt
Assistant Referee 1: Jeremy Weed
Assistant Referee 2: Cephas Quartson
Fourth Official: Levi Rippy
Saker ShopRites Woman of the Match: Christie Pearce