Piscataway, N.J. (Thursday, July 31, 2014) – Sky Blue FC (5-8-7, 22 points) earned its second consecutive home victory at Yurcak Field on Thursday night, with a Nadia Nadim to Kelley O’Hara connection in the 50th minute resulting in a spirited 1-0 victory over the Western New York Flash (7-11-3, 24 points). With the win and impactful three points, Sky Blue FC edges closer to the Flash in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Standings, setting up a critical three-game road stretch over eight days that will begin on August 9th in Houston.
“Western New York really seems to bring out the best in us, and we try to bring out the best in them,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra stated. “We caught a few breaks tonight, and we capitalized on a good opportunity on the goal we scored. Tonight was a deserved win. We worked hard, and we matched their intensity and passion. It is a credit to them because they bring that out in us.”
While the task of reaching the playoffs is a difficult one, Gabarra says that the focus of the team remains on reaching the postseason.
“Every game is a playoff game,” he remarked. “If we win out, we will have some interesting tiebreakers on teams, so we will just have to see what happens in the games ahead of us.”
After an effective start in this match-up, Sky Blue FC found itself with a legitimate scoring opportunity in the 18th minute. On the play, Nadim received the ball after beating her defender and raced into the box. Flash netminder Kelsey Wys left her post in an attempt to cut Nadim off, diving towards the ball as Nadim appeared to be heading into a clear path to the goal. The decision by Wys was good enough for her to fingertip the ball loose of Nadim, and possession changed as the aggressive play knocked her off her feet.
In the 32nd minute, Sky Blue FC created some good chances following a corner kick off the foot of midfielder Katy Freels. The ball sailed across the mouth of the goal on her strike before being headed to the top of the 18-yard box, where Nadim hammered a left-footed shot that deflected into the area outside of the left post. There, midfielder Sophie Schmidt collected before turning and dealing to Freels at the corner of the penalty area. Freels then lofted a well-struck attempt towards the frame, but the shot was just wide of the mark.
The deadlock in this contest was finally broken in the 50th minute after a play in which Sky Blue FC striker Maya Hayes ran down a loose ball on the right flank. The New Jersey native then sent a hard roller to the front of the goal, where Nadim turned and played O’Hara with space. O’Hara then stepped perfectly into the feed and hammered a hard shot top shelf and out of the reach of Wys. With the tally, the home side earned the lone notch of the evening.
Sky Blue FC continued to attack in the following minutes after acquiring the go-ahead score, with ripping shots off the feet of O’Hara and defender Caitlin Foord on consecutive possessions that nearly resulted in insurance goals. However, Wys stepped up to the offensive assault for her team, turning away both dangerous attempts.
Western New York really turned up the tempo and pressed on offense as this match entered the home stretch, with Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jill Loyden doing well in net to keep the slate clean. Perhaps her most critical save came in the waning moments of stoppage time, as Flash midfielder Carli Lloyd delivered a hard shot on frame, only to see Loyden in perfect position to punch it away.
With a collectively solid effort in all phases, Sky Blue FC eventually found itself with a deserved 1-0 victory and much-needed three points when the final whistle was blown to conclude the action.
“We’ve only played three-and-a-half games together, and our chemistry is awesome,” said Nadim, who recorded her first action with Sky Blue FC on July 6th against FC Kansas City. “I know what they want me to do, and it’s pretty incredible that we have that connection in such a short period of time.”
Sky Blue FC now hits the road for a three-game road stretch that begins on August 9th when the team travels south to play the Houston Dash. The next two contests take place the following Wednesday in Western New York before concluding on August 16th opposite the Washington Spirit.
To keep up with all of the action as the NWSL season continues to play out, make sure to stay tuned to www.SkyBlueFC.com.
Western New York Flash vs. Sky Blue FC
July 31, 2014 – Yurcak Field
WNY Flash 0 0 0
Sky Blue FC 0 1 1
50 SBFC K.O’Hara (N.Nadim)
WNYF Starting XI: Wys, Edmonds, Taylor, Williamson, Palmer (Barczuk-46), Salem (Losada-59), Zerboni, Lloyd, Kerr (Spencer-67), Bermudez, Wambach
Substitutes: Haracic, Wetzel, Allen, Martin, Barczuk
SBFC Starting XI: Loyden, Foord, Rampone (C), Cutshall, Nick, Schmidt, Levin, O’Hara, Freels, Nadim, Hayes (Kiryu-81)
Substitutes: Cameron, Goodson, Johnson, Ocampo, Filigno, Thompson
23 SBFC N.Nadim (Yellow Card)
26 WNYF C.Lloyd (Yellow Card)
40 SBFC C.Levin (Yellow Card)
55 WNYF S.Bermudez (Yellow Card)