Kelley O"Hara and Christie Rampone had a hand in all three goals as Sky Blue FC came back from a pair of two-goal deficits to draw with the host Western New York Flash, 3-3, on a sweltering day in Rochester.
The draw gave Sky Blue a point, improving them to 2-6-5 for 11 points but kept them at the bottom of the standings. The Flash remained in the middle of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) table with a record of 4-5-3 for 15 points.
Rampone, who had her hands full with the speedy Lynn Williams all day, scored the equalizer in the 65th minute - only her second professional goal of her club career. Rampone touched home a corner kick from Katy Freels that bounced through the penalty area and found the Sky Blue captain all alone. She made sure of the empty-netter easily, bringing the visitors all the way back.
The three goals marked the first time in 12 matches the Sky Blue scored more than a goal in a game.
The goal capped off a second half for the Sky Blue that was perhaps their best 45 minutes of the season. The Sky Blue controlled the middle of the field with Freels and O'Hara running things from their midfield spots. It was a stark difference from the first half when the Flash controlled play and struck for two early goals.
Frees closed the deficit to 3-2 in the 60th minute. Rampone won a ball at midfield and found O'Hara on the left side of field. O'Hara attacked toward the middle of the penalty area. She drew a pair of defenders to her at the top of the box and froze a third Flash player. O'Hara found Freels making the run and the wide-open midfielder slotted it home to make it 3-2.
Early Flash Domination:
Things didn't look good at the beginning of each half for Sky Blue. The Flash came out storming early in the game with Michelle Hammond, the Aussie international recently signed this past week, wasting no time in putting her stamp on the match. In just the second minute, Heyman cruised down the right side and took two touches that put her in on goal. She blasted a low shot that was saved by Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron for a corner kick.
On the corner kick, Williams and Stephanie Mewis kept the ball alive with headers, as Jasmyne Spencer knocked in from close range to give the Flash an early lead.
In the 24th minute, the lead was doubled. Jaelene Hinkle made a long run from just inside midfield, sliced inside and blasted a 20-yard shot by the left post.
Just when things looked bleak for Sky Blue FC, they got a break. O'Hara who started the game out at left back, combined with Taylor Lytle on a give-and-go and chipped over two defenders. Nadia Nadim slipped behind them and slotted one inside the right post
A lineup change makes the difference:
Two minutes after the goal, Lindsi Cutshall came off the field for what appeared to be heat exhaustion. Sky Blue FC coach Jim Gabarra subbed in Cammi Levin at left back, moved midfielder Hayley Haagsma to the center back post and teamed her with Rampone.
O'Hara moved to the midfield for the remainder of the game (she left in second half stoppage time) and made the difference, especially in the second half. Much like she did against China in the Women's World Cup, her aggressive play made Sky Blue dangerous on the attack. She paired up well with Freels, who didn't touch the ball much in the opening 45 minutes.
Heyman scored her first NWSL goal in the opening minute of the second half, the remainder of the game was mostly Sky Blue.
Much has been said about the young Flash team missing Sydney Leroux for the season but Heyman might make up for it. She played 80 minutes in her NWSL debut, scoring one goal by calmly putting away a shot off the crossbar from Stephanie Mewis and had two other almost certain goals taken away by the solid goalkeeping of Cameron.
Heyman, Spencer, Becky Edwards and Mewis were a dangerous combination in the first half.
Flash Second Half Woes Continue
For the second straight match, the Flash gave up the lead in the second half. Last week it was Seattle scoring three goals in six minutes - a league record - and today they coughed up a two-goal lead. They've now allowed 15 second-half goals, the most in the NWSL.
Lady Andrade coming to WNY?
Social media has been blowing up about the rumor of Colombia International Lady Andrade coming to Western New York. The Flash television announcers alluded to it during their broadcast without mentioning Andrade's name. Would be interesting if she's in the lineup when the two teams meet in August.