Midfielder Heather O'Reilly was responsible for the third goal of the match (Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Team Defeats Atlanta Beat by Largest Margin of Victory in Team History, 3-0
Sky Blue FC (1-3-1, 4 points) capped off its first win of the young Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) on Saturday night in historical fashion, defeating the Atlanta Beat (1-5-1, 4 points) by its largest margin of victory in franchise history, 3-0. Three different players recorded goals in the match, with goalkeeper Jenni Branam registering the shutout in net.
Sky Blue FC knew how important a go-ahead notch would be for them in this game, and the team would get just that in the 23rd minute. Following a defensive clearance by the Atlanta back line, forward Casey Nogueira stepped over the ball for a Sky Blue FC corner kick. She then placed a well struck cross right in front of the frame where Finnish international Laura Kalmari was awaiting the distribution. After perfectly positioning herself for the oncoming feed, Kalmari wound up and buried a shot into the upper netting of the near post. Midway through the opening half of play, the host side saw itself possessing a one-goal advantage.
The home team continued to create opportunities throughout the remaining minutes that led up to intermission, piling on five corner kicks and finding additional chances on the offensive end of the field. Despite some near hits, no more goals would be tallied onto the scoreboard before the two sides headed to the locker rooms for halftime.
Once the second half of play got started, Sky Blue FC soon found itself with the opportunity to increase the advantage. In the 56th minute, Spanish international Adriana raced down the right flank with the ball at her feet and ripped a shot that hit the top of the crossbar. The attempt then bounced in front of the frame where midfielder Allie Long settled it and turned her back to the goal. Beat defender Analisa Marquez then roughly approached the former Tar Heel and took her down in the box, forcing the referee in charge to award Sky Blue FC with a penalty kick. Stepping over the ball for the ensuing try was Long, who quickly fired a shot into the left netting of the goal, increasing the count to a 2-0 edge in favor of the host club. The official time of the notch was in the 57th minute.
The gap was then stretched to 3-0 in the 70th minute when English striker Eniola Aluko was able to find U.S. National Team midfielder Heather O’Reilly racing down the left side of the field. After receiving the feed, O’Reilly turned on the afterburners and fled in the direction of the goal after Atlanta netminder Allison Lipsher overcommitted to the distribution. The East Brunswick native next one-touched the ball around Lipsher and quickly found a wide open goal in her sights. With the opportunity at hand, she struck the ball towards the frame and watched it roll into the net to give her side a three-score lead.
While the three-goal advantage appeared to be enough to give Sky Blue FC the victory, the team remained focused on acquiring its first shutout of the season. Throughout the entire field, Branam and the rest of the team battled to keep the slate clean, and they would do just that. After 90 minutes of action, Sky Blue sealed the 3-0 win, which was the largest margin of victory in the three-year history of the franchise.
Sky Blue FC will remain at home this week, returning to action next Saturday when it hosts the Boston Breakers at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for that match are available now by calling 888-SBFC-TIX begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 888-SBFC-TIX end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
ResVideo: Defender Kendall Fletcher Speaks to Media
ResVideo: Midfielder Heather O'Reilly Speaks to Media
ResVideo: Head Coach Jim Gabarra Speaks to Media