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Sky Blue FC signs New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler

Nayler brings much-needed experience to SBFC

David Bernal, ISI Photos

Sky Blue FC announced on Monday, May 2 that it had signed New Zealand Women’s National Team (NZWNT) goalkeeper Erin Nayler to its roster.

Although the team officially announced Nayler’s signing with the team, the signing is still pending the receipt of her P-1 Visa and her International Transfer Certificate.

"We are delighted to finalize this deal with Erin Naylor," Sky Blue FC Head Coach Christy Holly said in a statement. "Bringing Erin to New Jersey is something we have been trying to get done for quite some time."

Although SBFC has two goalkeepers already on its current roster, both come to the New Jersey-based club team with little or no professional experience, putting SBFC at a disadvantage compared to other teams in the league.

"[Nayler] comes to us with plenty of experience, including both the World Cup and the Olympics, and she will be a great addition to a very solid group of goalkeepers that we have here," Holly added.

The 24-year-old Auckland, New Zealand native competed for her home country in the 2010 and 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She was also a member of New Zealand’s senior roster for the 2011 Women’s World Cup and for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. However, Nayler did not officially make her debut with the full Football Ferns team until March 2013.

In the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Nayler played very minute in goal for New Zealand, where she tallied 12 saves and only conceded three goals. She is slated to start once again for the NZWNT this summer in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

"Erin has proven consistently that she is a top international standard goalkeeper," Tony Readings, head coach of the NZWNT, said. "She has worked incredibly hard in the past few years to develop her game and has helped the Football Ferns achieve some notable results on the world stage."

The signing is most likely the work of SBFC Assistant Coach Paul Grieg, who coached Nayler at Northern Football. With Grieg at the helm as coach and Nayler captaining the team, Northern Football won the ASB Women’s League championship in 2015.

Nayler will be joining current goalkeepers Caroline Casey and Caroline Stanley, both in their first years with Sky Blue. Stanley played last season for the Seattle Reign, starting in a 2-1 win over Boston, while Casey came to Sky Blue as their third-round pick in the 2016 NWSL college draft.

Casey started in Sky Blue’s first two matches and was impressive against the Seattle Reign in the season opener in Seattle, tallying seven saves on the night. However, her inexperience showed in SBFC’s home opener against the Washington Spirit in which she only made one save and conceded two goals.

In Sky Blue’s most recent match against the Houston Dash, Stanley got the start and looked equally as impressive as Casey did against the Reign. She made seven saves and walked away with the clean sheet, holding the Dash to a scoreless draw.

Despite the strong performances both current goalkeepers had in their debuts with Sky Blue, it is clear SBFC is in need of experience and depth in the keeper position, both of which they should get with Nayler.