Photo by Sam Ortega, ISI Photos.
Sam Kerr Records Brace, Raquel Rodriguez Ties Fastest Goal in NWSL History
Sky Blue FC (5-4-1, 16 points) overcame a very difficult test on Saturday as the team returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action, defeating Portland Thorns FC (4-2-3, 15 points) at Providence Park, 3-1.
Raquel Rodriguez got started early as she tied an NWSL record by scoring 25 seconds into the match, while Sam Kerr paced the offense with a brace and an assist on the Rodriguez goal. With the result, Sky Blue FC ended a six-game Portland unbeaten streak, as well as halting an eight-match regular season home unbeaten streak for the Thorns at Providence Park.
“We are delighted with the result and exceptionally proud of every single player within this roster,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “Everybody came together and pushed one another to fight it out to the very end. We know that there are better performances in us, but this is a fantastic stepping stone towards the huge goals that we have for ourselves.”
As mentioned, Sky Blue FC wasted absolutely no time in getting on the scoreboard this evening, opening its account just 25 seconds after kickoff. On the sequence, the team immediately went on the attack, with Kerr gathering a rebound inside the area before turning and playing a hard roller towards Rodriguez. Seeing space in front of her, the Costa Rica international quickly stepped into a powerful shot that slotted past Portland netminder Adrianna Franch.
In the 32nd minute, Sky Blue FC earned a penalty attempt when England international Leah Galton gained possession and raced into the box, where she was taken down by midfielder Celeste Boureille. Stepping over the penalty try was midfielder Sarah Killion, who sent Franch right but struck her attempt just wide of the left post.
Sky Blue FC eventually extended its lead to 2-0 on a brilliant display by Kerr in the 70th minute. On the scoring play, U.S. international Kelley O’Hara cleared a ball that found the head of Maya Hayes at midfield. Hayes played the ball forward to Kerr, who turned on the jets and raced into a 1v1 situation with Franch. As she approached the Thorns netminder, the Australia international touched around her before striking away a shot that made it 2-0 in favor of Sky Blue FC.
In the 88th minute, Sky Blue FC stretched its lead to three goals as Madison Tiernan sent a ball towards her final third, causing Franch to come aggressively off her line. Kerr made Franch pay for that decision, flicking the ball past her before calmly slicing it into the open net. With the finish, Kerr found herself with two goals on the night, and Sky Blue FC was holding a 3-0 advantage.
Equally impressive this evening was the play of Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who recorded six saves and found herself just 20 seconds short of a clean slate before a late Thorns penalty kick was awarded in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Her international teammate Christine Sinclair stepped over the ensuing try, and Sheridan proceeded to make an incredible diving save of her initial attempt. Unfortunately for the visitors, the rebound fell directly at the feet of Sinclair, who put it away to hang the final 3-1 tally.
Next up for third-place Sky Blue FC is a critical road pairing with the second-place Chicago Red Stars next Sunday at 6:00 p.m. The New Jersey outfit will then return home to Yurcak Field on Wednesday, June 28, hosting the Orlando Pride for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Individual tickets for that match 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. Portland Thorns FC
Date: June 17, 2016
Venue: Providence Park; Portland, Oregon
Weather: 75 degrees, partly cloudy
NJ: 1 | 2 - 3
POR: 0 | 1 - 1
1 NJ Raquel Rodriguez (Sam Kerr)
70 NJ Sam Kerr (Maya Hayes)
88 NJ Sam Kerr (Madison Tiernan)
90+5 Christine Sinclair
NJ: Sheridan, O’Hara, Freeman, Pearce, Mills, Killion, Lytle (Stanton-78), Rodriguez, Galton (Hayes-68), Kerr, Meehan (Tiernan-61)
Subs not used: Casey, Richardson, DeCesare, Corboz
Head Coach: Christy Holly
POR: Franch, Boureille, Sonnett, Menges, Klingenberg, Henry, Long, Weber (Sykes-62), Horan, Raso, SInclair
Subs Not Used: Eckerstrom, Cox, Johnson, Shim, Brynjarsdottir
Head Coach: Mark Parsons
Stats Summary: POR / NJ
Shots: 15 / 14
Saves: 4 / 6
Corner Kicks: 6 / 7
Fouls: 15 / 16
Offside: 3 / 1
74 NJ Kelley O’Hara (Yellow Card)
90 NJ Nikki Stanton (Yellow Card)
90+1 POR Amandine Henry (Yellow Card)
Referee: Timothy Ford
Assistant Referee 1: Deleana Quan
Assistant Referee 2: JJ Blodgett
Fourth Official: Cephas Quartson
Saker ShopRites Woman of the Match: Sam Kerr