Photo by Jeffrey Auger.
Sky Blue FC Overcomes Two-Goal Deficit with Late Surge, 3-2
Sky Blue FC (7-6-1, 22 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday, engineering one of the most improbable comebacks in franchise history against FC Kansas City (3-6-4, 13 points), 3-2. Heading into the 78th minute with a 2-0 deficit, Sky Blue FC saw forward Sam Kerr go on an absolute tear that resulted in her scoring a 12-minute hat trick that led her team to victory.
“Tonight’s game is a direct representation of the incredible character that each and every one of our players has,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “What we saw in terms of their tenacity and competitive edge, but also their desire to work for each other, sums up everything that we know about this team. The unity amongst them and their belief in one another is very special.”
Before the incredible finish could occur tonight, Sky Blue FC once again found itself in a position to overcome extreme diversity.
FC Kansas City opened the scoring in the 29th minute. On the sequence, a ball was crossed into the area from the right flank and initially punched away by Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. An ensuing clearance attempt landed at the feet of defender Christina Gibbons, and she stepped to her right before back-heeling a ball to Katie Bowen on top of the 18-yard box. Bowen then drove a hard shot towards the target that found the back of the net, giving the visitors a 1-0 edge.
The tally was stretched to 2-0 in favor of FC Kansas City in the 42nd minute, as Desiree Scott gained possession in the midfield before playing Gibbons. After gathering the feed, Gibbons ran into the right side of the area before striking a shot that Sheridan nearly kick-saved, but the ball deflected into the goal to make it a two-notch deficit for the host side.
Just before halftime, Sky Blue FC defender Erica Skroski was played a ball by Sheridan that saw forward Shea Groom quickly close on her to dispossess. The two got tangled up as Groom headed upfield, which ultimately resulted in Skroski receiving a yellow card for impeding her progress and Groom being sent off the pitch after she threw her hands to the face of Skroski.
After the intermission, Sky Blue FC nearly closed the gap in the 50th minute, as Kerr back-heeled a ball to O’Hara inside the box. The U.S. international then played Maya Hayes on her left, and the ensuing shot from Hayes appeared to be heading across the goal line. However, FC Kansas City defender Becca Moros hustled onto the ball to clear it, and play resumed with the score remaining 2-0.
Staying on the attack, Sky Blue FC continued to create chance after chance, and the team finally broke through in the final minutes.
The first score came in the 78th minute. On that play, Sarah Killion was playing on the right side of the back line, where she collected distribution before sending it up the flank for O’Hara. After quickly gathering the feed, O’Hara delivered a beautiful strike into the penalty area. A speeding Kerr then ran under the cross before redirecting an incredible diving header past Barnhart to put Sky Blue FC on the board.
In the 81st minute, Taylor Lytle had possession in the midfield before playing Daphne Corboz in front of her. Corboz then quickly hit Raquel Rodriguez with a one-two ball before sending a hard roller towards Kerr inside the 18-yard box. Showing no hesitation, Kerr immediately hammered a right-footed rocket that did not afford Barnhart any time to react, equalizing the contest at two apiece.
Still not done, Sky Blue FC finished off the comeback in the 90th minute. Corboz first gathered from 25 yards out before sending a ball to Lytle, who one-timed it towards Kerr as she made a run into the penalty area. Kerr then rolled the feed with her right foot before poking it past Barnhart, scoring her third goal in 12 minutes to lead Sky Blue FC all the way back from being down 2-0.
“Sam is playing at a different level right now,” Holly remarked. “The most exciting thing about Sam is we truly believe there is still more to come from her. She is very young, and she is still very early in her development. These are the moments where she is proving to be one of the best players in the world. As her coach and as a fan, we could not be any prouder of her.”
Amid all of the chaos tonight, Kerr became the all-time leading goal-scorer in NWSL history, overtaking Jess McDonald and now currently sitting on 35 career goals. Another significant note this evening is that Sky Blue FC became the first team in NWSL history to play its 100th league match.
Sky Blue FC will return home to Yurcak Field next Saturday, July 15, hosting the Chicago Red Stars 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. FC Kansas City
Date: July 8, 2016
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 81 degrees, overcast
NJ: 0 | 3 - 3
KC: 2 | 0 - 2
29 KC Katie Bowen (Christina Gibbons)
42 KC Christina Gibbons (Desiree Scott)
78 NJ Sam Kerr (Kelley O’Hara)
81 NJ Sam Kerr (Daphne Corboz)
90 NJ Sam Kerr (Taylor Lytle)
NJ: Sheridan, Skroski (Galton-67), Freeman (Mills-27), Pearce, O’Hara, Rodriguez, Killion, Corboz, Tiernan (Lytle-47), Kerr, Hayes
Subs not used: Casey, Meehan, Stanton, DeCesare
Head Coach: Christy Holly
KC: Barnhart, Moros, Sauerbrunn, Averbuch, Taylor, Ratcliffe (Flynn-57), Gibbons, Scott, Bowen (Kelly-72), Leroux, Groom
Subs Not Used: Tymrak, Parkhill, Newfield
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Stats Summary: NJ / KC
Shots: 28 / 16
Saves: 10 / 5
Corner Kicks: 8 / 7
Fouls: 5 / 4
Offside: 1 / 1
45+4 NJ Erica Skroski (Yellow Card)
45+4 NJ Shea Groom (Red Card)
Referee: Amber O’Connor
Assistant Referee 1: Benjamin Wooten
Assistant Referee 2: Amilcar Sicauju
Fourth Official: Jorge Ramirez
Saker ShopRites Woman of the Match: Sam Kerr