Sky Blue FC forward Eniola Aluko nearly put her team on the board on multiple occasions (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Atlanta Beat Defeats New Jersey Club on 51st Minute Goal, 1-0
Sky Blue FC (0-1-1, 1 point) headed south for its first road match of the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) season, playing the Atlanta Beat (1-1-0, 3 points) at KSU Stadium on Saturday night. While the team was able to control much of the tempo in the match, Atlanta was able to hold off the Sky Blue FC advances and eventually picked up three points on a 51st minute tally off the foot of forward Meghan Lenczyk.
“It is important to take hold of that feeling of disappointment and what it is like to lose, especially in a game where we carried most of the momentum and created the chances to win,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra said of learning from the loss. “You have to remember that feeling of disappointment so you will do everything in your power to keep it from happening again.”
Aggressive play got the action started in this contest, and Sky Blue FC was able to gain control of some early momentum. The team began to create some nice opportunities for itself, with English striker Eniola Aluko at the forefront of the attack. Aluko, who was acquired from the Beat via an offseason trade, fired off four shots in the opening half of play, including two of which that were on target. Unfortunately for Aluko and the road side, none of those attempts were able to find the back of the net. However, Sky Blue FC netminder Karen Bardsley was able to match her counterpart, Allison Lipsher, with a blank slate in the first 45 minutes of play, and this meeting headed into halftime still scoreless.
“I thought we played pretty well in the first half,” Gabarra continued. “We defended well, and we didn’t give away a lot of chances. We won the ball in the midfield and put them under pressure in the first half, and we created at least three or four really good chances.”
Following the second half whistle, it was the Beat who tallied the first score of the match. Things got crowded in the Sky Blue FC box in the 51st minute, and Lenczyk took advantage of that opportunity after checking into the game at intermission. With Bardsley looking to clean up some danger, Lenczyk was able to find just enough space with the ball at her feet and placed it in the net. The notch was the first of her professional career, also giving her team a 1-0 lead.
Finding itself down a goal, Sky Blue FC then turned up its intensity and continued to create some great chances on the offensive end of the field. Forward Casey Nogueira was able to put three shots on goal, but Lipsher was able to prevent them from doing any damage. While the persistent play put the Sky Blue FC attack on the cusp of equalizing, Atlanta was able to hold off the advances and eventually closed out the 1-0 result.
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a road pairing with the Boston Breakers (1-0-0, 3 points) on May 1st, kicking off at 6:00 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel. The match will be the second of three consecutive games away from home for Sky Blue FC before returning to Yurcak Field on Saturday, May 21st, to host Atlanta at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that contest are available now by calling 888-SBFC-TIX.