Sky Blue FC used goals by Nogueira (center) and Long today to gain the result.
Sky Blue FC Defeats the University of Virginia at Asphalt Green in New York City
Chilly temperatures greeted Sky Blue FC of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) today when it met the University of Virginia at Asphalt Green in New York City, but the team was able to heat up the scoreboard early and held on for a 2-0 exhibition win. Tallying goals in the match were midfielder Allie Long and forward Casey Nogueira, with goalkeepers Kristin Arnold and Erin Guthrie combining for the shutout in net.
Sky Blue FC played with a bit of a reworked lineup due to national team call-ups and rest being given to some regular starters, but the team was able to adjust quickly and make the necessary adjustments to quickly gain control of the match tempo. With Arnold directing the formation in front of her, Sky Blue FC found itself creating some well crafted opportunities during the opening minutes of the game.
The first tally of the match came as a result of aggressive play on the offensive end by Sky Blue FC, with the go-ahead knock coming in the 18th minute. Finnish international Laura Kalmari posted up at the top of the Virginia box, and she then found distribution heading towards her feet. Without hesitation, the second-year WPS player one-touched a feed upward to a streaking Long, who was able to tap the ball past the opposing netminder to gain a 1-0 advantage for her team.
Just four minutes later, fellow University of North Carolina alumna Nogueira joined Long on the stat sheet. Ironically, the scoring play began off the foot of Long, who received the ball in the center of the field and booted a cross to the left flank for two-time Swedish Player of the Year Therese Sjogran. After settling the feed, Sjogran then distributed to Nogueira at the top of the 18. After a couple of quick touches, the three-time NCAA College Cup Champion turned and blasted a strike to the far post and into the upper right netting of the goal. At the 22-minute mark, Sky Blue FC now held a 2-0 lead.
Danger occurred for Sky Blue FC the following minute, as a Virginia player dribbled the ball down her offensive end line before chipping to the front of the goal. After a clearing attempt by the Sky Blue FC defense was deflected to the feet of an opposing player, Virginia nearly got on the board when a hard shot bounced off the top crossbar. Not yet clear of harm’s way, defender Lindsey Johnson pounced on the loose ball and cleared it from danger.
Collectively, the first-time Sky Blue FC back line of Johnson, Carrie Dew, Kiersten Dallstream and Michelle Wenino played very well for their side in this match, despite a lack of experience together at their respective positions. They were able to do a nice job of stopping Virginia runs and setting up new possessions for the offense, and that accumulative effort eventually led Sky Blue FC into intermission still maintaining a two-goal advantage.
Rutgers alumna Guthrie took over in net for Sky Blue FC in the second half, and the 2010 WPS Champion (FC Gold Pride) played with the poise of a proven veteran for her team. On the offensive end of the field, Sky Blue FC continued to create additional opportunities, nearly finding a third tally in the 65th minute. After the midfield worked the ball to the center of the pitch, Long chipped a feed over the Virginia back line, where midfielder Angie Kerr then raced onto the ball and fired off a hard struck shot. Unfortunately for Kerr, perfect positioning by the Virginia goalkeeper prevented the attempt from finding its target.
In the waning minutes of action, Sky Blue FC again came close to increasing its lead. Kerr won a header in the midfield, starting possession in the center of the field. She then distributed to Kalmari, who was able to push a feed through to a streaking Alyssa Mautz. The 2011 draft selection collected the ball and quickly tapped it past the outstretched arms of the opposing netminder, but a Virginia defender was able to track and clear the attempt before it rolled past the end line.
With a clean sheet for both sides in the second half, Sky Blue FC then emerged victorious with a 2-0 result.
Sky Blue FC still has two more exhibitions on tap for this week, playing Rutgers University this Thursday in Piscataway before wrapping up preseason action next Sunday against Penn State University at Dideriksen Park in East Brunswick. The team will then open up its third season of play on Sunday, April 10th, when it hosts the Philadelphia Independence at Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway. Tickets for the April 10th home opener are available now, and they can be purchased by calling 1-888-SBFC-TIX.