Sky Blue FC's Alyssa Mautz scored her first WPS goal in the game (Photo by Howard C. Smith, ISI Photos).
Sky Blue FC Falls to Host Philadelphia Independence, 4-3
The goals came fast and furious on Wednesday night at Leslie C. Quick Jr. Stadium in Chester, with seven total scores finding the back of the net over 90 exciting minutes of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) action. Unfortunately for the visiting Sky Blue FC (3-4-3, 12 points) side, it would come out on the wrong end of a 4-3 result to the Philadelphia Independence (6-2-3, 21 points), bringing to an end a franchise record five-game unbeaten streak.
The scoring started quickly in this match, with Independence forward Danesha Adams finding space in the 3rd minute for a run towards the Sky Blue FC box. With the ball at her feet, the UCLA product briefly looked up and found a streaking Tasha Kai run onto a 1v1 situation with road netminder Jenni Branam. Before Branam was able to close on her, Kai fired a right-footed strike into the left side netting and gave her side an early 1-0 advantage.
After a hard foul by Philadelphia midfielder Sinead Farrelly on Sky Blue FC striker Adriana led to a yellow card in the 15th minute, the visiting side received a break on the ensuing possession. After Independence defender Leigh Ann Robinson collected the ball after the free kick, she turned to feed it back to goalkeeper Valerie Henderson. Unfortunately for the Independence, Henderson was unable to gather the pass, and it rolled into the net for an equalizing own goal.
Just five minutes later, Sky Blue FC gained its first lead of the evening on a play that was provided by a connection of first-time statistics. After finding space on the left flank, first-time starter Jen Clark was able to find a crease in the center of the Independence defense and fed a cross in that direction. There awaiting distribution was fellow first-time starter Alyssa Mautz, who immediately headed home the pass for her first-ever WPS goal and made the count 2-1 in favor of the road club.
The heavy dose of scoring continued in the 29th minute of this contest, and again Kai was the player who put the ball into the back of the net. On that play, Farrelly dished a cross to the Hawaiian native on the right side of the frame, and Kai was able to put a hard header on the feed to send it once again sailing in the left side netting for her second goal of the night. Less than 30 minutes into this game, four goals were in the books, and a level 2-2 tally showed on the scoreboard.
However, the first half scoring had still not concluded. After Mautz saw what was nearly her second goal of the match get punched away by Henderson for a corner kick, two-time NCAA Player of the Year Casey Nogueira stepped over the ensuing free kick in the 38th minute. After she struck the ball towards the far side of the frame, defender Kendall Fletcher was there to send the delivery home in what was her first knock of the season. In addition to giving her side a 3-2 first half edge, the North Carolina native became the ninth different Sky Blue FC player to notch a goal this year.
That fifth knock would then prove to be the final one of an electric first half, and the 3-2 tally stood when the whistle was blown for intermission.
After the second half got underway, the game became level for the third time in the 57th minute after Kai sealed her first career hat trick with a third goal. On the play, she raced onto a feed from Spanish striker Veronica Boquete on the right flank and found herself with just enough space to fire a hard shot into the back of the net. With that notch, the scoreboard read even at 3-3, but the scoring had still not concluded. After receiving a corner kick in the 77th minute, Philadelphia was able to keep a dangerous ball bouncing around the Sky Blue FC box until forward Laura del Rio finally put a shot away just 30 seconds after checking into the match. That tally made it 4-3 in favor of the host side, and it would hold on the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
Sky Blue FC now returns home to Yurcak Field this Saturday, July 9th, to host magicJack SC at 7:00 p.m. The Bonnie Brae Knights Drum Corps will be playing throughout that match as in-game entertainment, and tickets for that game are available today.
Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra talks about a hard fought road loss by his team against the Philadelphia Independence, 4-3.
ResVideo: Post-Game Comments from Head Coach Jim Gabarra