Stoppage Time Goal Forces Stalemate

Burke had a great game in net for Sky Blue FC (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).

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FC Gold Pride Draws Even with Sky Blue FC, 1-1

Piscataway, N.J. (Wednesday, September 1, 2010) – Heartbreak again hit Sky Blue FC (7-10-5, 26 points) tonight in the final minutes of a midweek hosting of first place FC Gold Pride (14-3-5, 47 points), with the visiting team equalizing in stoppage time to pull even in a 1-1 result. Following a free kick from FC Gold Pride midfielder Camille Abily from 30 yards out, defender Becky Edwards was able to one-touch the feed into the goal and match an earlier tally from the foot of Sky Blue FC striker Tasha Kai.

“It’s very unfortunate to see such a well-played game end the way this one did, but we have to keep our heads up and continue to have the belief that we are still in this,” Sky Blue FC head coach Rick Stainton commented. “I am very proud of the effort that we gave tonight, and there are many positive aspects that we can take away from this game. We have a roster full of players who continue to fight, and we know our team will go out and put everything on the line in our final two games of the regular season.”

Sky Blue FC came out with an expected intensity, and the host side immediately pushed the game on the offensive end to a very aggressive tone. Behind some well crafted runs on the front line, the Sky Blue FC midfield found some creases to create some good looking runs. Kacey White and Heather O’Reilly were doing a nice job of feeding from the flanks from this game’s onset, and Kai used her significant speed to set up some dangerous opportunities for her team.

The action continued to swing back and forth on the pitch throughout the opening half, and each player competed at a very high level. Knowing the pivotal circumstances that could play out by the night’s result, Sky Blue FC left it all out on the pitch. In no situation was that point more proven than when Kai sped after a loose ball and crashed over the walls just past the end line. FC Gold Pride was up to the task of matching that intensity, though, and the first half of action came to a close with the game still scoreless.

Sky Blue FC looked to get the go-ahead tally early in the second half, with the home team finding a great opportunity in the 47th minute of play. White saw a lane to Kai on the left flank and quickly dished a feed over to her. The Hawaiian native then cut right towards the middle of the box, but her ensuing attempt fired just wide of the target.

Goalkeeper Meghann Burke played tough for Sky Blue FC in her first start of the season, and at no point was she more tested than in the 53rd minute. FC Gold Pride forward Christine Sinclair found herself with an open angle on the goal, but when she took her shot on goal, a diving Burke was back onto the scene to make the save and force a corner kick. On the following play, Burke was there to clean up the danger in the box and put her team back into its offensive set.

In the 72nd minute of this match, the intensity of Sky Blue FC paid dividends. O’Reilly received a ball in the center of the field and sent it forward to Kai. Once getting the ball at her feet, Kai side-stepped the FC Gold Pride defense and tapped the ball into space. She then raced onto it and fired a bullet towards the frame, and her shot ripped past Barnhart and into the back of the net. With 18 minutes left on the clock, Sky Blue FC had the lead, 1-0.

A series of cautions came immediately after the go-ahead notch. First, Kai was carded for excessive celebration after scoring her second goal in as many games. Then once the action started, a little bit of an exchange between Sky Blue FC defender Brittany Taylor and FC Gold Pride back Ali Riley resulted in yellow cards for both of them.

A final yellow card came in stoppage time when Carli Lloyd was booked for an aggressive tackle. The following play was the free kick by Abily to Edwards, and the remaining seconds of extra time rolled off the clock to end the evening as a 1-1 stalemate.

“Overall, we were pretty happy with the way we performed,” O’Reilly stated after the match. “Obviously, it was a bit of a heartbreak there in the end when they were able to tie it. As a team, we know we have to continue to move forward with a positive approach, and we know we still have some soccer to play.”

Sky Blue FC is now two points behind the Washington Freedom (7-8-7, 28 points) in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Standings with both sides having a pair of games left on the regular season slate. Sky Blue FC plays the Atlanta Beat on the road this Sunday and will wrap up with the Boston Breakers at home on Saturday, September 11th. Washington finishes up with the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday before playing its finale on September 11th against Atlanta.

Tickets for Sky Blue FC’s final home game of 2010 are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 1-888-SBFC-TIX.

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