Sky Blue FC forward Tasha Kai proved many times that she is not afraid to sacrifice her body (Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
7th Minute Goal from Eniola Aluko Provides Lone Tally of Match
Piscataway, N.J. (Sunday, July 18, 2010) – Sky Blue FC (5-6-3, 18 points) was unable to overcome the Atlanta Beat (2-7-4, 10 points) tonight at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, falling by a count of 1-0. The lone notch of the game came off the foot of Beat forward Eniola Aluko in the 7th minute, and the visiting side held on the rest of the way to take the three road points.
“We played with three forwards tonight in the hopes that we could find more opportunities on the offensive end,” Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen said of the 4-3-3 formation that her team used. “We created some good chances, but we just weren’t able to convert them for the equalizer.”
Atlanta mounted an early attack in this match, with Aluko at the foundation of the offensive game plan. The English native got her first good look in the 5th minute when she fired a shot from the left corner of the 18-yard box, but Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill was there to clean it up. The home side was not as lucky two minutes later when Aluko was fed a cross from midfielder Angie Kerr on the right flank, and the English striker one-touched the ball past Luckenbill to give her team an early one-goal advantage.
The pace of the action slowed a bit after that opening score, and the home team looked to garner control of possession as a result. Making some notable contributions to the Sky Blue FC offense was forward Tasha Kai, who returned to the Starting XI in this match. She proved to be a nice combination with Italian striker Patrizia Panico, and the duo created some dangerous opportunities for their team. However, the Beat defense was able to fight off the Sky Blue FC attack throughout the opening half of the game, and Atlanta was able to take the 1-0 lead into the locker rooms at the break.
“I always try to play with a lot of energy, and I know that rubs off on my teammates,” Kai said of her energetic demeanor. “Unfortunately, we came up short tonight. We had our chances, but we have to do a better job of putting them away.”
When second half action got underway, the first significant chance for the hosts came in the 51st minute when Sky Blue FC midfielder Yael Averbuch unloaded a free kick off the Atlanta wall. The attempt then bounced forward where defender Daphne Koster raced onto the loose ball, but Beat goalkeeper Hope Solo was able to get there and prevent any trouble for her team.
The hard work of the Sky Blue FC attack nearly equalized the count in the 62nd minute on a play which started on a beautiful pass forward by midfielder Kacey White. Speeding into open space and onto the feed was Panico, who fired a hard strike off the top of the crossbar. The ball then deflected to the right side of the box where Kai put a header just wide of the frame. With the possession, the home side looked to grab a hold of the momentum.
Sky Blue FC played more explosive soccer the rest of the way, but the home side was unable to make the game level. The team’s final chance came in the 87th minute, when defender Meg Schnur sped through the Atlanta defense to the right side of the goal. With a little bit of space in front of her, the U.S. National Team defender sent a ball to the center of the area, but the Beat defense was able to clear it away.
“It was truly a tale of two halves tonight,” Miettinen concluded. “We had trouble getting it going in the first half, but we played with a lot of fire in the second half. What we have to do is get ourselves to play with that type of intensity for the full 90 minutes.”
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a Saturday road pairing with the Philadelphia Union at West Chester University. Kickoff for that game is 6:00 p.m. The team returns home Yurcak Field on Sunday, August 1st, when it hosts the Chicago Red Stars at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that match are available now by calling 1-888-SBFC-TIX.