Sky Blue FC (4-4-4, 16 points) was victorious against the Houston Dash (2-7-1, 7 points), earning the New Jersey side a much-needed three points.
With the result, Sky Blue handed the Dash, who have not scored a goal since May 7, their sixth consecutive 1-0 loss.
During the first few minutes of the first half, Sky Blue FC went hard, taking every opportunity to make a chance that they possibly could. Houston Dash's tries were off the mark in the same time frame.
Christie Rampone, in the last minute of the first half, took possession of the ball and ran it down the field, shooting across that eventually ended in a corner kick. Rampone again ended up with possession of the ball during the set piece and nearly finished it, but her shot was just inches off the mark.
Ultimately, Sky Blue FC's chances were close, but they made no connection with the back of the net during the first half, and both teams went into the half scoreless.
During the second half, Sky Blue FC made plenty of chances but only one was successful. Midfielder Taylor Lytle took possession of the ball after a pass from Sarah Killion and put it in the back of the net, making the score 1-0 in the 54th minute. Although Lytle currently leads the team in assists (4), her goal against Houston is her first since the inaugural 2013 NWSL season, when she had four.
Ultimately no other goals were scored on either side, leaving the full time score at 1-0.
Caroline Casey, who got the start in goal while Caroline Stanley recovers from a left shoulder sprain, made it a shut out with several dynamic saves. It was her first shutout and second win over her four appearances so far this year.
Australian-international Sam Kerr saw her first 90-minute game also against Houston, much to the delight of Sky Blue and Matildas fans. Although the rest of the Australian women's national team reported to pre-Olympic training camp earlier in the week, Kerr stayed behind in New Jersey to get one more match under her belt to help rebuild her match fitness before Rio. Although Kerr did not score any goals against the Dash, she was instrumental in the Sky Blue attack all night.
"All of the credit for this performance must go to the players," said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. "As the season progresses, you can really see our connection coming together. Our team has a great understanding of one another, and they continue to gel and display fantastic teamwork. We made it a bit hard for ourselves at the end, but I had a supreme amount of confidence that we would close out the game. I could see how hungry our players were for the win, as well as their clear desire in playing for one another."
Sky Blue FC next travels to Boston to take on the Boston Breakers on Sunday, July 17. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. EST.
NJ v HOU Match Summary
|Sky Blue FC||0||1||1|
Sky Blue FC Lineup: Caroline Casey; Kristin Grubka, Christie Rampone (C), Erin Simon, Erica Skroski; Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle, Raquel Rodriguez; Leah Galton (Catherine Zimmerman, 90'); Tasha Kai (Maya Hayes, 79'), Sam Kerr
Subs Not Used: Theresa Diederich, Shawna Gordon, Nikki Stanton, CoCo Goodson, Jill Loyden
Head Coach: Christy Holly
Houston Dash Lineup: Bianca Henninger; Ellie Brush. Becca Moros, Stephanie Ochs (Caity Heap, 79'), Cari Roccaro; Amber Brooks (Megan Crosson, 79'), Denise O'Sullivan, Cami Privett; Rachel Daly, Melissa Henderson (Chioma Ubogagu, 68'), Kealia Ohai (C)
Subs Not Used: Tessa Florio, Kate Scheele
Head Coach: Randy Waldrum
55' NJ: Tasha Kai - Yellow Card
95' HOU: Caity Heap - Yellow Card