Sky Blue FC Unable to Solve Independence

Luckenbill played her final match of the season today (Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).

Philadelphia Defends Home Turf to Defeat Sky Blue FC, 4-1

West Chester, Penn. (Saturday, July 24, 2010) – Sky Blue FC (5-7-3, 18 points) continues to have trouble with the second place Philadelphia Independence (7-5-3, 24 points), falling to its Northeast rival tonight by a score of 4-1 at West Chester University. The lone notch of the evening for Sky Blue FC came off the foot of All-Star defender Brittany Taylor, who buried a solo strike in the 80th minute.

“We can’t let any one game define us,” said Rick Stainton, who took over as Sky Blue FC head coach this past Monday. “While it is hard sometimes, we have to find the positives in everything we do. We have to have the belief in ourselves and put forth the work ethic to make good things happen. Once we are able to get it together regarding those two important aspects, everything will start going smoothly for us.”

Things could not have not started much worse for Sky Blue FC this evening, with Philadelphia scoring a pair of goals in the opening eight minutes of play. The first tally came in the 6th minute when Swedish midfielder Caroline Seger crossed a ball after speeding down the right side of the field. There awaiting the feed was fellow midfielder Joanna Lohman, who headed the ball past Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill. The second notch came just two minutes later when Seger struck a through-ball to forward Amy Rodrigez, who was racing down the middle of the field and into the opposing box. With Luckenbill coming off her post, Rodriguez chipped the ball into the net to make it 2-0 in favor of the home team.

The Independence remained on the attack after scoring those two early goals, and the host side proceeded to increase its advantage to 3-0 in the 21st minute. After receiving a ball on her left foot, Philadelphia defender Holmfridar Magnusdottir pushed forward until she saw a direct crease to the Sky Blue FC goal line. Without hesitation, the Iceland native struck the ball with her right foot past an extended Luckenbill.

With its back to the wall, Sky Blue FC looked to counter the early deficit by putting one on the board, and it almost happened in the 29th minute when striker Kiersten Dallstream sped down the right wing before dishing a cross to the far side of the box. Italian international Patrizia Panico was there to receive the distribution, but her one-touch attempt went wide of the frame.

The visiting side continued to seek a tally to close the gap, but the score remained 3-0 when the halftime whistle was blown.

The second half started eerily similar to the first, with the lead being extended to 4-0 in the 51st minute of action. With the ball at her feet, Seger found some space in the center of the field and pushed a ball through to a streaking Rodriguez. The California native then sped onto the feed and one-touched herself into a 1v1 situation with Luckenbill before firing a hard shot into the back of the net.

Sky Blue FC finally got itself on the board in the 80th minute on an incredible effort from Taylor. The 2009 W-League Defender of the Year received a ball in the center of the field and then proceeded to weave her way through the middle of the entire Independence defense. At the end of her run, she struck a hard volley towards the Philadelphia frame and watched the ball hit the back of the netting. The goal for Taylor was the first of her professional career.

“It all happened so quickly that I haven’t really had a chance to look back on that goal yet,” Taylor said after the game. “I remember dribbling through the midfield, and all of a sudden, the midfield just split, so I kept going. Then the center backs split, so I continued to keep going. Once Val (Henderson) came out, I tried to chip it over her head. I think she got a hand on the ball, but it kept going in.”

Sky Blue FC was without the services of forward Tasha Kai tonight, who missed the game due to illness. This match also marked the final appearance of the season for Luckenbill, who will be attending the University of Virginia this fall to achieve her Masters Degree.

Sky Blue FC will return 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.

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