Sky Blue FC (2-2-1, 7 points) earned its first road win of the season in Week 5 of National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) play, taking down the Houston Dash (2-3-0, 6 points) by a final score of 3-1 in the NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week. Three different players scored for Sky Blue FC on the night, with Australian international Sam Kerr netting her first goal of the season and adding an assist.
“We are delighted to rebound this week by picking up three points against a very talented Houston team,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Christy Holly. “We know that we must continue improving our overall performance, but scoring three goals in back-to-back games away from home is a direct indication of what this team is capable of achieving. There are a lot of positives for us to take away from this game, and we will apply them into our preparation for next week.”
After a bit of back and forth from both teams to start the game, the New Jersey side almost netted a goal in the 16th minute when midfielder Sarah Killion’s shot ricocheted off the crossbar and was eventually cleared. Kerr earned a penalty kick for her team soon thereafter, and Killion buried her third PK of the season to put her team up 1-0 in the 32nd minute. SBFC would take this lead into halftime.
Kerr continued to shine offensively for Sky Blue FC to start the second half, and created a brilliant opportunity for the New Jersey squad in the 56th minute. After collecting the ball in the midfield and drawing the attention of multiple defenders, Kerr played the ball to a wide open Leah Galton. Galton was left to go 1v1 with Houston Dash goalkeeper Lydia Williams, and the England international weaved around her to put the ball in the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Houston threatened in the 70th minute when, off of a corner kick, a shot from Dash defender Bruna Benites was on frame and headed towards the back of the net. Sky Blue FC rookie defender Mandy Freeman was there for the goal line clearance. Houston eventually found the back of the net in the 76th minute off of a strike from Poliana to make the score 2-1.
Sky Blue FC iced the game in the 87th minute with a goal from Kerr. The play started when Sky Blue FC forward and Boston College alum McKenzie Meehan collected the ball at the top of the 18 before sending a hard roller towards Kerr. Kerr then slotted the ball between two defenders and Williams for her first goal of the season. The Australian international is now tied with her teammate Kelley O’Hara for second most goals in franchise history with 12. Both will look to chase the franchise record of 13 goals held by Nadia Nadim as the season progresses.
Of all the positives that Coach Holly and fans can take away from this game, it would be easy to look at the offensive production and be content. After all, Sky Blue FC has scored three goals in consecutive matches for the first time since July of 2015. However, the unsung heroes of this game, like any good soccer match, were on the Sky Blue FC defense.
Sky Blue FC center back Christie Pearce returned to the lineup after two weeks under concussion protocol. Her leadership on the backline was key, and she helped them remain organized as they tried to build out of the back. Defenders Erin Simon and Erica Skroski kept the dangerous Dash forwards at bay for the duration of the game. Freeman created great chances from her ventures up to midfield. She seemed to be playing with more confidence than ever before, and her goal line clearance was nothing short of impressive. The entire defensive squad seemed more organized as a unit than they have so far this season, and it paid off dividends.
Sky Blue FC returns home to Yurcak Field next Saturday, May 20th, for its second game in a row against the Houston Dash. The game will be featured as the NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week, marking the second week in a row this matchup is featured. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. E.T.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Houston Dash
Date: May 13, 2016
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas
Weather: 85 degrees, hot
NJ: 1 | 2 - 3
HOU: 0 | 1 - 1
33 NJ Sarah Killion (Penalty Kick)
53 NJ Leah Galton (Sam Kerr)
76 HOU Poliana (Kealia Ohai)
87 NJ Sam Kerr (McKenzie Meehan)
NJ: Sheridan, Simon (Mills-77), Pearce, Freeman, Skroski, Lytle (Tiernan-73), Stanton, Killion, Rodriguez, Galton (Meehan-62), Kerr
Subs not used: Casey, Richardson, Corboz, Hayes
Head Coach: Christy Holly
HOU: Williams; Roccaro, Bruna, Van Wyk (Hagen-75), Levin; Brooks; Beckie, Brian, (Poliana-61) Prince (Andressa-46), Daly, Ohai
Subs Not Used: Campbell, Falknor, Henderson, Heap
Head Coach: Randy Waldrum
Stats Summary: HOU / NJ
Shots: 14 / 8
Saves: 0 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 1
Fouls: 14 / 11
Offside: 2 / 2
65 NJ Raquel Rodriguez (Yellow Card)
87 HOU Amber Brooks (Yellow Card)
Referee: Michael Radchuk
Assistant Referee 1: Francisco Bermudez
Assistant Referee 2: Jeremy Kieso
Fourth Official: Mike Arrington