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Cameron, Bledsoe battling for Sky Blue FC No. 1 goalkeeper job

Pre-season will decide who will replace Jill Loyden in New Jersey nets

Brittany Cameron make a kick save last season.
Brittany Cameron make a kick save last season.

With former starting Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Jill Loyden announcing her retirement in the off season,  one of the more interesting storylines during pre-season will be the selection of her replacement.

Loyden was a rock between the posts for the last two seasons for the Sky Blue FC.  The Vineland, N.J., native also had 10 caps with the US women's national team. She retired from competitive soccer in October  and now runs the Jill Loyden Foundation, which helps support programs and activiites to empower young people.

Last's backup goalkeeper, Brittany Cameron, may seem like the heir apprerant.  She played  in a  handful of games last year, including a clean sheet versus the Western New York Flash, one of her former  teams. Cameron was loaned to Velgalta Sendai Ladies in Japan before returning to camp.

But the competition got tougher when SBFC brought in Aubrey Bledsoe,  Wake Forest graduate who was also the U.S. U23 Women's National Team starter. She come to New Jersey after a solid season with Idrettsklubben Grand Bodo of the Norwegian League.

"During our scouting for last year's (2014) college draft, we had Aubrey ranked really high at the goalkeeper postion," said Jim Gabarra, Sky Blue head coach. At that time, we did not really have a need with both Jill and Britt coming back, and she ended up playing abroad in Europe for a year. We were looking for someone to challenge for a number one spot and believe Aubrey fills that need.

While the Sky Blue is working around challenges of missing players who are in the Women's World Cup, having two  solid goalkeepers is a problem many teams would love to have.

The competition will be played out in four preseason games this month.  The schedule is:

March 14 v. St. John's  at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. 2 p.m.

March 21 v. UNC at Mercer County Community College , 3 p.m.

March 25 v. Penn State at New Sports Complex, Palmyra, 8 p.m.

March 29 v. Rutgers at Rutgers, 7 p.m.

There is no admission for the matches against St. John's and Rutgers. Tickets for the UNC game is $10. Tickets for the Penn State match are $8 online and $10 at the gate.

SBFC opens its season in Kansas City on April 12 before its home opener at Yurcak Field against the Houston Dash and NJ native Carli Lloyd and this year's No. 1 draft choice, Morgan Brian.