Piscataway, N.J. (Sunday, July 20, 2014) – It was a wild finish to a Sunday night pairing between Sky Blue FC (4-7-7, 19 Points) and the Washington Spirit (8-8-3, 27 Points) at Yurcak Field, with four goals coming in the final 10 minutes of the match. Forward Kelley O’Hara contributed on each score for her team, registering two goals and two assists on a season-high four-tally performance by Sky Blue FC. Despite two late notches by the Spirit in the final minutes, the four goals were good enough to earn Sky Blue FC a 4-2 result and a critical three points.
“We sat down and looked at our past performances, and it was pretty obvious that we needed to be better in front of the goal, both defensively and on the attack,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra said of the strategy for the game. “The biggest difference today was that we put our chances away, and Jill (Loyden) came up with some big saves until there in the end when they threw crazy numbers forward. Overall, it was a very good performance for us as a team.”
In just the fourth minute of the match, Washington seemed to be headed to an early advantage after Australian striker Lisa De Vanna received the ball on the left side of the box and ran into a 1v1 situation with Sky Blue FC netminder Jill Loyden. De Vanna raced to the top of the six-yard box before unloading a hard shot that Loyden stuffed with a point blank save.
On the other end of the field, Sky Blue FC was also creating some good opportunities in the early going, with Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris making some key saves before the home side was able to strike in the 22nd minute.
On that scoring play, Sky Blue FC forward Nadia Nadim sped into the right side of the penalty area and caused the Washington defense to collapse on her. Trailing her on the left was O’Hara, who Nadim dealt a well-placed ball with nothing but a wide open goal in front of her. Without hesitation, O’Hara quickly knocked the feed into the back of the net, giving her team a 1-0 edge.
In the 36th minute, Sky Blue FC stretched its lead to 2-0 on a well-orchestrated series that was set up by O’Hara stealing possession on the left side of the box before taking the ball to the right side of the penalty area. Canadian midfielder Sophie Schmidt then overlapped O’Hara before she tapped the ball into the space in front of her. Schmidt then quickly collected before hammering a hard strike into the net.
That goal increased the tally to 2-0 in favor of the home club, and the two teams would take that score into the locker rooms at intermission.
In the final minutes of this match, a four-goal explosion made things very interesting. The first notch was scored by Nadim in the 82nd minute after she was fed a through-ball from O’Hara. Nadim then danced around the Washington back line before firing a hard shot that was out of the reach of Harris. Following that score, Sky Blue FC forward Jonelle Filigno intercepted a clearance attempt by Spirit defender Tori Huster on top of the 18-yard box, and she turned and sent a hard roller to O’Hara on her left. O’Hara then stepped around the defense and rocketed a shot that sailed over the head of Harris, giving her side a 4-0 lead in the 85th minute.
Despite the deficit, Washington finished out the game with a strong intensity that resulted in two goals in less than three minutes. In the 88th minute, a Spirit corner kick created an opportunity for the visitors, as a dangerous ball bounced around in front of the net before forward Jodie Taylor finished it to hang the first tally of the match for Washington. The final goal of the evening came in the 90th minute, with Spirit defender Robyn Gayle heading home an assist from midfielder Veronica Perez.
With the wild finish in this match, a final score of 4-2 was hung in favor of Sky Blue FC.
“We scored four goals tonight, but our team defending was the best we’ve done all season. We stuck to our game plan, and that’s what I’m most proud about,” O’Hara remarked. “We know our backs are against the wall at this point, but I haven’t counted us out (of making the postseason). I don’t think anyone in the locker room has, either. We’re definitely in it for the full 24 games, and we’re still gunning for the playoffs.”
Sky Blue FC now hits the road to play FC Kansas City next Sunday night before returning to Yurcak Field on Thursday, July 31st, to host the Western New York Flash at 7:00 p.m. To purchase tickets for that match, visit tickets.skybluefc.com or call 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849) today.
Washington Spirit vs. Sky Blue FC
July 20, 2014 – Yurcak Field
Washington Spirit 0 2 2
Sky Blue FC 2 2 4
22 SBFC K.O’Hara (N.Nadim)
36 SBFC S.Scmidt (K.O’Hara)
82 SBFC N.Nadim (K.O’Hara)
85 SBFC K.O’Hara
88 WAS J.Taylor
90 WAS R.Gayle (V.Perez)
WAS Starting XI: Harris, Gayle, Krieger (C), Singer, Huster, Averbuch, Lindsey (Perez-78), Nairn (Matheson-55), Garefrekes, Taylor, DeVanna (Dunn-78)
Substitutes: Jones, Cross, Angeli, Adams
SBFC Starting XI: Loyden, Rampone (C), Foord, Levin, Goodson, Freels (Kiryu-90), Schmidt, Nick (Stanton-90), O’Hara, Nadim, Hayes (Filigno-64)
Substitutes: Cameron, Johnson, Ocampo, Cutshall
57 WAS R.Gayle (Yellow Card)