Photo by Stephen Brashear, ISI Photos.
Eight-Goal Second Half Leads to 5-4 Final in Favor of Seattle over Sky Blue FC
Sky Blue FC (7-7-2, 23 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday, nearly finishing off an improbable second half comeback against Seattle Reign FC (6-3-6, 24 points) at Memorial Stadium. Down 4-0 in this contest, Sky Blue FC scored four goals in 16 minutes to equalize, but a late Seattle game-winner in the 87th minute provided Reign FC with a 5-4 result.
“We are obviously very disappointed with the outcome of the game,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We put ourselves in a hole, but again these girls showed exactly what kind of class they have by digging themselves out and getting back in contention. However, we know that we must improve defensively if we expect to have more positive outcomes.”
After creating some early opportunities in this match-up, Sky Blue FC nearly got on the board in the 16th minute. On that sequence, Daphne Corboz dispossessed in the midfield before racing towards her final third and playing Sam Kerr on a run into the right side of the penalty area. After quickly collecting, Kerr hammered a hard shot that forced a diving save by Seattle netminder Haley Kopmeyer.
However, Reign FC would be the team that scored the opening goal in the 27th minute of play. After being awarded a free kick from approximately 25 yards out, Megan Rapinoe hit a right-footed strike that curled over the Sky Blue FC wall and just beyond a diving Kailen Sheridan. With the tally, the host side saw itself with a 1-0 advantage.
Briefly after the intermission, Seattle extended its lead to 2-0 in the 47th minute when two Sky Blue FC defenders collided with Beverly Yanez inside the box for a Reign FC penalty attempt. On the ensuing try, Rapinoe struck the ball to her left, where Sheridan stretched to put fingertips on it. Unfortunately for Sky Blue FC, the ball then deflected off the post and bounced into the back of the net.
In the 49th minute, Seattle made it a 3-0 match, as Nahomi Kawasumi sent a cross into the area that was headed home by Yanez. Reign FC then saw the score line stretch to 4-0 in the 56th minute, as a Rapinoe cross from the left flank deflected off Erica Skroski for an own goal.
Despite the wide 4-0 deficit, Sky Blue FC kept its head high and proceeded to go on an incredible rally. The New Jersey club got one back in the 60th minute following a play that saw Leah Galton taken down inside the box for a penalty kick. Stepping over the ensuing try was Kelley O’Hara, who calmly fired the ball into the left-side netting to make it a 4-1 tally.
Sky Blue FC then closed the gap to a pair in the 64th minute. On that series, McKenzie Meehan sent a ball into the box from the right flank, where Kerr dummied it for O’Hara. The U.S. international then fired a point-blank shot that Kopmeyer deflected, but Galton was there the claim the rebound and score it without hesitation.
In the 73rd minute, Galton delivered a ball of her own into the penalty area, where it was initially mistouched by a Reign FC defender who was attempting to clear it. Kerr then quickly gathered the loose ball before laying it off for Corboz, who fired the feed into the back of the net to make it a 4-3 contest.
Soon after that goal, Sky Blue FC put away another strike to completely erase what was once a four-goal deficit. On an equalizing sequence in the 76th minute, Corboz had space in front of her and took full advantage. The New Jersey native lofted a perfectly-placed cross towards the far post that found the head of Kerr, who put it past Kopmeyer to level this match at four goals apiece.
As this match headed into the final minutes, the 4-4 score line remained, but Reign FC eventually found the game-winning goal in the 87th minute. On that play, Rapinoe and Katlyn Johnson worked a one-two on top of the 18-yard box. Rapinoe was the end recipient of the feed, one-timing a left-footed curler that hit the right upper 90 and gave Seattle back the lead, 5-4. The goal for Rapinoe gave her a hat trick on the night, and the hosts held onto that 5-4 tally until the final whistle to claim the three-point result.
In this match-up, Sky Blue FC nearly tripled the shot total of its opposition, out-shooting Reign FC by a 31-11 differential. Also of note, Corboz scored her first NWSL goal in the contest, and her performance this evening led to Saker ShopRite Woman of the Match honors.
The NWSL will now take an international break next week before Sky Blue FC returns home to Yurcak Field on Friday, August 4, to host the Washington Spirit for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Individual tickets for that match are available now online or by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849).
For all of the latest news on Sky Blue FC, visit the team online and follow us on social media: @SkyBlueFC
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Seattle Reign FC
Date: July 22, 2017
Venue: Memorial Stadium; Seattle, Washington
Weather: 72 degrees, partly cloudy
NJ: 0 | 4 - 4
SEA: 1 | 4 - 5
27 SEA Megan Rapinoe
47 SEA Megan Rapinoe (Penalty Kick)
49 SEA Beverly Yanez (Nahomi Kawasumi)
56 SEA (Sky Blue FC Own Goal)
60 NJ Kelley O’Hara (Penalty Kick)
64 NJ Leah Galton
72 NJ Daphne Corboz (Sam Kerr)
76 NJ Sam Kerr (Daphne Corboz)
87 NJ Megan Rapinoe (Katlyn Johnson)
NJ: Sheridan, Skroski, Pearce, Killion, Corboz, Lytle (Tiernan-78), Stanton (Galton-54), Rodriguez, O’Hara, Hayes (Meehan-58), Kerr
Subs not used: Casey, Kai, Richardson, Mills
Head Coach: Christy Holly
SEA: Kopmeyer, Pickett, Barnes, McNabb, Mathias (Stott-69), Nairn, Utsugi, Elston (Johnson-72), Rapinoe, Yanez (Dallstream-82), Kawasumi
Subs Not Used: Bauer, Crummer, Reed, Schiffel
Head Coach: Laura Harvey
Stats Summary: SEA / NJ
Shots: 11 / 31
Saves: 8 / 0
Corner Kicks: 5 / 8
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 6 / 5
30 SEA Merrit Mathias (Yellow Card)
80 SEA Megan Rapinoe (Yellow Card)
89 NJ Madison Tiernan (Yellow Card)
Referee: Greg Dopka
Assistant Referee 1: Brooke Mayo
Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Deuker
Fourth Official: Jeff Arthurholtz
Saker ShopRites Woman of the Match: Daphne Corboz