Sky Blue FC (1-1-1, 4 points) earned its first win of the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season on April 30, defeating FC Kansas City (1-2-0, 3 points) for the first time at Yurcak Field by a final score of 1-0. Midfielder Raquel Rodriguez converted the game-winner in the 83rd minute while goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan earned her first professional clean sheet.
“This game was more about the win than it was about the performance,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Christy Holly. “We stressed from the very start that we wanted to set the tone for the rest of the season tonight. We are very fortunate to have such fantastic fans, and we wanted to give them something to be excited about.”
Holly was forced to make adjustments to the starting line-up as captain Christie Pearce was out of action due to the league concussion protocol while Sam Kerr was in Australia attending the Dolan Warren Awards. Sky Blue FC played the full 90 minutes with three rookies (Sheridan, Kayla Mills and Mandy Freeman) and second-year players Erica Skroski and Erin Simon in the backline, and managed to hold FC Kansas City scoreless for the entire match.
The New Jersey squad was finally able to find the back of the net in the 83rd minute of the match. After forward McKenzie Meehan ripped a shot that forced FCKC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart to make a save, forward Kelley O’Hara took the ensuing corner kick.
O’Hara served a ball across the box to a wide open Freeman on the far side of the penalty, who then played a ball back to the middle towards Rodriguez. The Costa Rica international was able to stretch out her left leg far enough to get her foot on it and poke the ball past Barnhart for a 1-0 lead. The goal would prove to be the game-winner.
The victory marked the first time that Sky Blue FC has defeated FC Kansas City in New Jersey. It was also the first time SBFC has won its home opener since the inaugural NWSL season in 2013.
Sky Blue FC will hit the road again for a two-game stretch. First stop, the Washington Spirit on Saturday, May 6 at 7:00 p.m. The NJ side will return to Yurcak Field on Saturday, May 20, hosting the Houston Dash in the NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. FC Kansas City
Date: April 30, 2017
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 56 degrees, chilly
NJ: 0 | 1 - 1
KC 0 | 0 - 0
83 NJ Raquel Rodriguez (Mandy Freeman)
NJ: Sheridan, Simon, Skroski, Freeman, Mills, Hayes (Tiernan-70), Rodriguez, Killion, Lytle (Galton-66), Corboz (Meehan-80), O’Hara
Subs not used: Casey, Stanton, DeCesare, Richardson
Head Coach: Christy Holly
KC: Barnhart, Gibbons, Averbuch, Sauerbrunn, Taylor, Scott, LaBonta, Ratcliffe (Tymrak-89), Kelly (Newfield-80), Bowen (Flynn-63), Leroux
Subs Not Used: Parkhill, Reed, Moros
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Stats Summary: KC / NJ
Shots: 9/ 8
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 13 / 8
Offside: 4 / 0
74 NJ Raquel Rodriguez (Yellow Card)
90 NJ Madison Tiernan (Yellow Card)
Referee: Kevin Broadley
Assistant Referee 1: Art Arustamyan
Assistant Referee 2: Gjovalin Bori
Fourth Official: Joe Zawistowski