Offense Comes Through as Sky Blue FC Claims First WPS Victory

Offense Comes Through as Sky Blue FC Claims First WPS Victory

Tracy Allen | isiphotos.com

Sky Blue FC celebrates Sarah Walsh’s opening goal against the Chicago Red Stars. (Tracy Allen)

Bridgeview, Ill. (May 10, 2009) – For the first time this season, Sky Blue FC put together a complete effort at both ends of the field and the result was the team’s first-ever Women’s Professional Soccer victory. Sarah Walsh connected early in the first half and Natasha Kai added a second-half goal as Sky Blue FC claimed an impressive 2-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Chicago Red Stars in front of 3,664 fans at Toyota Park.

Jenni Branam needed just three saves to post the shutout for Sky Blue FC, which improves to 1-2-2 for the season. The win vaults Sky Blue FC into fifth place in the standings based upon goal differential with a three-way tie on points with Saint Louis and Washington. The loss was the first setback of the season for Chicago (2-1-2), which could have climbed into first place in WPS with a win.

Sky Blue FC and Chicago previously tied 0-0 in their first meeting of the season on April 19th at Toyota Park.

Heading into the game, Sky Blue FC had done a good job through its first four games at the defensive end allowing just four goals. But the New Jersey team’s troubles were clearly on the offensive end with just one goal scored all season. With the goalscoring coming through, the defense once again did its job to propel Sky Blue FC to victory.

“Obviously to come in playing such a strong side in Chicago we knew we had our work cut out for us, but we had a great week of practice – we reestablished our structure, talked about our goals and getting results,” said Sky Blue FC General Manager and Head Coach Ian Sawyers. “I was very proud of the way the team played today – they played with a lot of heart and a lot of poise. We started scoring goals which is a good sign for us because we have some good goal scorers.”

Sky Blue FC came out strong from the opening whistle and dominated much of the first half holding an 8-2 advantage in shots. The visiting side wasted no time in taking the lead thanks to a connection from its two Australian internationals in the seventh minute. Heather O’Reilly started the play when she sent a pin-point pass forward to the feet of Collette McCallum at the top of the box. She laid a perfect diagonal ball into the box for Walsh, who took a touch to the right of the goal before tucking a great right-footed finish just inside the far post.

The pressure continued for Sky Blue FC as O’Reilly played the ball up to Kai and then ran onto to the striker’s flick in the 10th minute. As O’Reilly broke into the box alone, Red Stars goalkeeper Caroline Jonsson came off her line to stuff O’Reilly’s shot.

Five minutes later, Sky Blue FC appeared to double the lead after a steal in the box by Julianne Sitch, who did an admirable job in the center of the midfield after playing at right back in previous games. Sitch cut the ball across for Walsh to hammer home but the flag was up for offside.

Just after halftime, Branam did well to preserve the lead with a diving stop in the 52nd minute. Red Stars striker Karen Carney let loose from 25 yards out and Branam dove to her right to block the shot. She gave up a big rebound, but no Red Stars were there to take advantage.

O’Reilly was unlucky not to put Sky Blue FC up by two goals when she nearly dented the crossbar in the 58th minute. McCallum curled in a cross toward the far post for Kai but her header was blocked. O’Reilly, who previously claimed the only Sky Blue FC goal to date, smashed a six-yard shot off the lower part of the crossbar and it bounced away from danger.

The visitors finally nailed the insurance goal on a play started once again by McCallum in the 78th minute. The Australian playmaker fed a nice through ball behind for Kelly Parker to run onto. As Jonsson charged out off her line, the Canadian midfielder slid a slow roller across the goal and Kai flew in to bury the ball into the open goal from five yards out.

Chicago’s last gasp to get onto the scoreboard came in stoppage time off the foot of Lindsey Tarpley. Carney passed in from the left and Tarpley hit a first time shot from the top of the box but Branam was there to punch her shot wide of the goal.

The victory over Chicago was the third in a run of five straight road games for Sky Blue FC, which returns to action on Friday, May 15 when it travels to Los Angeles to face the Sol at 10:30 p.m. ET at the Home Depot Center. The match will be televised live on Universal Sports.

May 10, 2009 – Toyota Park

1

2

F

Sky Blue FC (1-2-2)

1

1

2

Chicago Red Stars (2-1-2)

0

0

0

Lineups:
Sky Blue FC – Jenni Branam; Meghan Schnur, Christie Rampone (Christie Shaner 72’), Anita Asante, Keeley Dowling; Collette McCallum, Julianne Sitch, Kelly Parker, Heather O’Reilly; Natasha Kai (Rosana 82’), Sarah Walsh (Yael Averbuch 65’).
Chicago Red Stars – Caroline Jonsson; Marian Dalmy, Nikki Krzysik, Ifeoma Dieke, Chioma Igwe (Natalie Spilger 79’); Megan Rapinoe (Ella Masar 66’), Brittany Klein (Cristiane 54’), Frida Ostberg, Karen Carney; Carli Lloyd, Lindsay Tarpley.

Scoring Summary:
SBFC – Walsh (McCallum) 8th minute
SBFC – Kai (Parker) 78th minute

Misconduct Summary:
CHI – Carney (caution) 53rd minute
SBFC – Asante (caution) 73rd minute
SBFC – Sitch (caution) 75th minute

Game Summary:
Referee – Ted Unkel
Assistant Referees – Amy Willing, Donald Dellavia
4th Official – Victor Herrera
Attendance – 3,664
Weather – Cloudy & windy, 62 degrees

BOXSCORE (All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.)

QUOTES

SKY BLUE FC HEAD COACH IAN SAWYERS:

“Chicago made it very difficult, especially at the end of the game. I’m getting old, but that last ten minutes of the game made me even older. I’m very proud of the players today; they really stepped it up and expressed themselves.”

SKY BLUE FC FORWARD SARAH WALSH:

“Collette McCallum and I know each other’s game inside and out so the ball through was perfect. We’ve had three or four games without a goal, so it was just a huge relief to get a goal and to be up. To be honest, I was surprised we were up.”

“I’ve never been so relieved, to have my club win a game. We worked hard for it and we deserved it.”

SKY BLUE FC FORWARD NATASHA KAI:

“The goal came off a great run from Kelly Parker. The ball was probably already going in, but I made sure it went in to secure a 2-0 lead.”

“It felt good to score not just for me, but for our team in general. I just hope this carries on to our next game.”

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