Striker Nadia Nadim started off the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season the way she left off in the 2014 season – scoring a goal in a Sky Blue FC victory.
But it was goalkeeper Britany Cameron’s athletic play and numeous saves that made the goal stand up as Sky Blue FC took its season opener on the road, 1-0, over FC Kansas City at Sporting Park.
In a game where the hosts dominated play for stretches at a time in the early going, Nadim’s goal in the 29th minute held up against the defending NWSL champions --- thanks to a great job by goalkeeper Cameron.
The victory was Sky Blue’s sixth in a row – a club record.
Cameron, the backup to the now-retired Jillian Loyden last year, came up big at least a half-dozen times against a potent Blues lineup that featured the firepower of US National Team members Lauren Holiday, Heather O’Reilly and Amy Rodriquez.
Cameron was extremely active in all phases of goalkeeping stopping long shots, dismantling 1 v 1 attempts and punching balls over the bar in keeping FC Kansas City off the board and preserving the win.
Late in the game the aggressive goalkeeper was at her best. Protecting the one-goal lead, came sliding out to prevent O’Reilly from connecting on a through pass form Rodriguez in the 53rd minute.
With 10 minutes left, Cameron dealt with a long hard blast from 25 yards from Holiday, momentarily juggling the smothering the loose ball.
Less than a minute later, the Sky Blue FC goalkeeper came out to stop Rodriguez one on one, not letting down one big in thwarting the rally. Rodriquez came in on goal with a pretty through pass from Holiday.
The final dangerous opportunity came in the 90th minute with FC Kansas City given a free kick just outside the right corner of the penalty area. Kelley O’Hara was given the season’s first caution on the foul. Yael Averbuch took the free kick but blasted it high over the bar.
In the early part of the game, Cameron made several saves that help Sky Blue stave off early domination by the home team.
On the best one, the goalkeeper punched a shot from Erika Tymrak over the bar. She then stoned Rodriguez in the 13th minute to keep the game scoreless.
Nadim, whose goal-scoring heroics helped build the five-game winning streak last summer, got the game-winner in the 29th minute. Meg Morris sent a ball into the box where Nadim chased it down and let go a bad-angle shot from the right side. The Danish striker blasted a ball over the head of Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
The goal loosened up Sky Blue and the visitors began to play with more possession and it evened out in points during the second half.
O’Hara and Nadim were semi-dangerous at various times in the second half with the former nearly connecting in the 55th minute on the left post but hitting a shot wide.
The victory also marked the professional debuts of top draft picks Sarah Killion and Kirstin Grupka. Both started and had solid if not remarkable openers.
Sky Blue is home Saturday, hosting the Houston Dash, a 2-nil winner over the Washington Spirit.