Sky Blue FC (2-2-1, 7 points) hits the road this weekend to once again take on the Western New York Flash (2-3-0, 6 points). The last time the two teams met was just two weeks ago, May 7, at Yurcak Field, where Sky Blue fell 1-2 to the Flash.
Although the two teams seemed equally matched, Sky Blue proved to be the stronger team in the first half, and Maya Hayes put Sky Blue on the board first. However, WNY came back strong in the second half to get the win.
The Flash equalized the score when Jaelene Hinkle converted a penalty kick awarded after Erica Skroski was called for a handball in the box. Samantha Mewis then scored the game winner after Caroline Stanley blocked a shot but was unable to get back on her feet as Mewis collected the deflection and sent it into the back of the net.
On Saturday, Sky Blue will face the Flash on their turf at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York. While most teams enjoy a home field advantage, Sky Blue has been performing better on the road than at home, which may level the playing field between the two teams.
Sky Blue comes into Saturday's match off its first home win, a 1-0 win over the Boston Breakers on May 13. Although the team looked more composed at times and have several long stretches of cohesive play, they were still lacking in the attack. SBFC only took nine shots all night, and the lone goal was an own goal off of Breakers defender Kassey Kahlman's torso. Despite the lack of offense displayed in the game, that win may be enough of a morale boost to have built some momentum for Sky Blue going into Saturday's rematch.
"We look forward to getting back on the field after a good result last week," SBFC Head Coach Christy Holly said in a statement. "We know we did not do ourselves any justice in the second half the last time we played Western New York, and we are anxious to correct some of those mistakes we made. We fully realize the importance of getting a result in this match, and that is exactly what we are looking to do Saturday night."
Sky Blue also arrives in Rochester with two players not rostered the last time they played WNY. New Zealand-international goalkeeper Erin Nayler was made available to Sky Blue just prior to last weekend’s match against the Boston Breakers (Caroline Casey was waived to make room on the roster) but did not see any time in goal because of the limited training time with the team. However, Head Coach Christy Holly said after last weekend’s match that Nayler would be starting in goal this weekend against WNY.
Leah Galton also joins Sky Blue for their trip to New York, marking the first time the English-international has been available for her new club team. Galton, who SBFC took in the second round of the 2016 NWSL college draft, had previously been unavailable as she finished her college education.
Galton could be a quick fix for the Sky Blue attack, which has been noticeably lacking so far this season. In five games SBFC has taken only 47 shots, only 23 of which have been on goal. Galton had a strong attacking presence during her time in Sky Blue’s preseason camp, and having another true forward on the team will be beneficial since they have been limited to just one listed forward at times because of injuries. One such injury was a hip strain which has placed Danielle Schulmann on the 45-day injury list, making room on the roster for Galton's arrival to the team.
Western New York is in the opposite boat. The Flash will be taking on Sky Blue without several key players, including captain Abby Erceg who is suspended from Saturday night’s match after being awarded two yellow cards and a subsequent red card in last weekend’s Orlando match.
It was also announced Friday afternoon that the Flash had waived Colombian-international Lady Andrade. Andrade has seen limited playing time this season, coming off the bench to play for only 51 minutes in two games. Jeon Ga-Eul is also listed as doubtful for Saturday's match as she is out with an Achilles strain, and Alanna Kennedy is questionable as she recovers from a left ankle sprain.
Sky Blue FC faces the Western New York Flash on Saturday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York. The game will be livestreamed on the NWSL Soccer channel on YouTube and is available here.
Sky Blue FC Lineup:
Goalkeepers: (2) Erin Nayler, Caroline Stanley
Defenders: (7) CoCo Goodson, Kristin Grubka, Maya Hayes, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Erin Simon, Erica Skroski
Midfielders: (7) Kelly Conheeney, Shawna Gordon, Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle, Ashley Nick, Raquel Rodriguez, Nikki Stanton
Forwards: (3) Kim DeCesare, Leah Galton, Tasha Kai
Head Coach: Christy Holly
Note: Samantha Kerr is listed as unavailable (foot); Danielle Schulmann was placed on the 45-day injury list (right thigh strain)