Maya Hayes Buries Late Game-Winner to Defeat Orlando Pride at Yurcak Field, 2-1
Sky Blue FC (4-3-1, 13 points) completed another improbable finish at Yurcak Field when it returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday, using an 82nd minute game-winner from Maya Hayes to knock off the visiting Orlando Pride (2-3-2, 8 points), 2-1. The goal continued an incredible feat at home for Sky Blue FC, where the New Jersey outfit is undefeated in three matches via game-winners twice in the 82nd minute and once in the 85th minute.
Additionally, the 3-0 start at Yurcak Field is a franchise-best for Sky Blue FC, with the Hayes game-winner continuing that run tonight and earning her Saker ShopRites Woman of the Match honors.
“It is very exciting to see the evolution of this club, particularly when it comes to the change of mindset when we are in a tough position,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “When you are faced with adversity, it brings out the best or worst in a person, and it shows their true colors.
“Tonight, we got to see how we respond when we are down 1-0 to a very talented team. We stepped up our performance, and we backed each other up in every area of the field. At no point did we lose the belief that we could win this game. As a head coach, that is something that makes me both very proud and very excited, especially when we can back it up with the ability we have throughout the entire field.”
The Pride opened the scoring this evening in the 18th minute, as Camila collected on top of the 18 before cutting a ball through two defenders. There awaiting the feed was forward Jasmyne Spencer, who touched the ball with her right foot before striking it into the far-side netting with her left foot. With the tally, Orlando found itself with an early 1-0 advantage.
Sky Blue FC created a couple of great opportunities in the 26th minute, beginning on a corner kick that midfielder Daphne Corboz sent into traffic. On that sequence, the ball arrived at the feet of defender Mandy Freeman, whose shot was deflected by Pride netminder Aubrey Bledsoe for another corner kick. On that ensuing try, Corboz again placed the ball in a good location, and an eventual shot from Costa Rica international Raquel Rodriguez was collected by Bledsoe.
In the 43rd minute, Sky Blue FC found its equalizer. On the conversion, Rodriguez first dispossessed a player in the midfield to set up a Corboz run through the center of the Orlando defense. As the Pride back line began to collapse on her, Corboz split three defenders to find a streaking Kerr, who one-touched the feed before striking it into the upper netting. The finish by Kerr tied the all-time club record at 13 goals (Nadia Nadim), sending these two teams into the intermission at one score apiece.
Both sides fought throughout the second half to orchestrate the go-ahead goal, but it would be the home side that eventually found it in the 82nd minute. The series started on a well-struck goal kick from Sky Blue FC netminder Kailen Sheridan that Kerr perfectly headed towards to a racing Maya Hayes in front of her. After collecting the feed, Hayes sped into the penalty area before stepping around Bledsoe, quickly hammering the ball into the back of the net to give Sky Blue FC the late lead, 2-1.
Over the final minutes of this pairing, Sheridan did well on some difficult chances from the Pride attack, keeping the slate clean the rest of the way to give Sky Blue FC its third consecutive win at home.
Now 3-0 at Yurcak Field in 2017, Sky Blue FC is off to its greatest start at home in franchise history.
Also of note in the match-up is that it was the first professional start for former Rutgers University standout Madison Tiernan, who made her NWSL debut appearance in the Starting XI on the same field where she played her college soccer.
After playing three games in a week, Sky Blue FC will return to action next Saturday, June 3, hosting Portland Thorns FC. Kickoff for that match is slated for 7:00 p.m., and tickets are available now online or by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849).
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: May 27, 2016
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 68 degrees, sunny
NJ: 1 | 1 - 2
ORL: 1 | 0 - 1
18 ORL Jasmyne Spencer (Camila)
43 NJ Sam Kerr (Daphne Corboz)
82 NJ Maya Hayes (Sam Kerr)
NJ: Sheridan, Simon, Freeman, Pearce, Skroski (Mills-55), Tiernan (Galton-75), Killion, Rodriguez, Kerr, Hayes, Corboz (Meehan-55)
Subs not used: Casey, Lytle, Richardson, Stanton
Head Coach: Christy Holly
ORL: Bledsoe, Catley, Pressley, Kennedy, Krieger, Camila, Weatherholt (M.Evans-72), Edmonds (D.Evans-75), Spencer, Fields (Monica-60), Marta
Subs Not Used: Stanley, Burkenroad, Alleway, Driesse
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni
Stats Summary: NJ / ORL
Shots: 10 / 11
Saves: 2 / 6
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 9
Offside: 2 / 1
Referee: Robi Nullner
Assistant Referee 1: John Krill
Assistant Referee 2: Ben Pilgrim
Fourth Official: Amber O’Connor
Saker ShopRites Woman of the Match: Maya Hayes