Sky Blue FC now heads back to the United States.
Team Named Runners-Up Following 1-0 Defeat to LdB FC Malmö in Turkey
Sky Blue FC of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) gave a class effort today at Alanya Stadium in Turkey, but the team was forced to claim second place in the Alanya International Women’s Tournament of Champions following a 1-0 result in favor of LdB FC Malmö. Sky Blue FC reached the finals of the tournament after overcoming Danish club Fortuna Hjorring this past Thursday in the semifinals of the competition, advancing after coming out the victor of a nine-round shootout.
LdB FC Malmö gained an early advantage in this match in the 12th minute, and it would not relinquish that lead for the remainder of the contest. The scoring conversion for the Swedish side came when a wide side cross landed at the feet of midfielder Sarah Storck, who found herself with an open angle on the frame after receiving the feed. She then quickly turned towards her target and struck a hard shot that was just out of the reach of an outstretched Karen Bardsley, giving her team a 1-0 advantage.
Following that go-ahead tally for FC Malmö, Sky Blue FC turned up the tempo and grabbed control of the momentum for the next 15 minutes of action. However, FC Malmö nearly increased its advantage in the 32nd minute of the match, but a finger tip save off the glove of Bardsley redirected a Manon Melis shot just enough to send it off the far post. The ball was then cleared away from danger to before any significant damage occurred.
The intensity of play on the field increased with each passing minute that remained in the opening half, and Sky Blue FC began to find creases that led to some creative opportunities. Continually positioning herself for some well crafted runs down the right flank was captain Brittany Taylor, who looked to capitalize on the hustle of her teammates as they pressed forward. While multiple chances came as a result of the overall team effort, Sky Blue FC would eventually find itself heading into the locker rooms at intermission still needing an equalizing notch.
Sky Blue FC performed some quick ball movement following the opening kickoff of the second half, which eventually led to an early corner kick. Three-time NCAA College Cup Champion Casey Nogueira then found teammate Therese Sjogran at the top of the 18 on the ensuing kick, but an attempt from the two-time Swedish Player of the Year was a bit high. FC Malmö then quickly responded on the other end of the field when Melis found a lane on the left side of the near post. She then raced towards the frame with the ball at her feet, but Bardsley was somehow able to turn away a sure goal from the playmaker.
English National Team striker Eniola Aluko displayed impressive creativity for Sky Blue FC throughout the entire second half of this pairing, nearly leveling the terms in multiple situations. She was able to find openings within the back line of the Swedish side and demonstrated an uncanny ability to continually place herself on dangerous runs. She was able to end her runs with shots towards the frame, but the attempts were unable to find the back of the net.
As the final minutes of the match approached, Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra brought offensively minded midfielder Kiersten Dallstream onto the pitch in favor of left back Danielle Johnson, giving the team an added weapon to the attack. Sky Blue FC continued to operate well and caused some chances to develop, but the final whistle eventually blew before it could level the terms.
While the final may not have gone in the direction of Sky Blue FC, the team did make history during its time in Turkey by becoming the first women’s club team from the United States to ever play a match in the country.
Sky Blue FC will now depart Turkey on Monday morning and redirect its focus towards an April 10th WPS home opener against the Philadelphia Independence. Kickoff for that match is 6:00 p.m. at Yurcak Field, which is located on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. In the meantime, the team has three scheduled exhibitions, and the first will occur on Sunday, April 27th, at Asphalt Green in New York City. The team will play the University of Virginia in a friendly encounter, kicking off the game at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets for the April 10th home opener are available now, and they can be purchased by calling 1-888-SBFC-TIX.
Documentary: Episode One
Documentary: Episode Two
Documentary: Episode Three
Documentary: Episode Four
Documentary: Episode Five
Game Recap: Fortuna Hjorring
Documentary: Episode Six
Documentary: Episode Seven
Documentary: Episode Eight