Eight goals in the second half, an improbable comeback and Megan Rapinoe heroics barely begin to describe the battle in Seattle that occurred on Saturday night between Sky Blue FC (7-7-2, 23 points) and Seattle Reign FC (6-3-6, 24 points). After being down 4-0 early in the second half, the New Jersey club rallied to tie the game with 14 minutes remaining. Rapinoe then scored the game-winner in the 87th minute to lift her team to a 5-4 result and extend the club’s unbeaten streak at Memorial Stadium.
“We are obviously very disappointed with the outcome of the game,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Christy Holly in a team press release. “We put ourselves in a hole, but again these girls showed exactly what kind of class they have by digging themselves out and getting back in contention. However, we know that we must improve defensively if we expect to have more positive outcomes.”
Sky Blue FC created several scoring chances early on in the contest, but the Reign would end up striking first in the 27th minute of action. After being awarded a free kick, Rapinoe sent a beautiful bender with her right foot above the SBFC wall and past a diving Kailen Sheridan to open up scoring for the match. At the half, Seattle took the 1-0 advantage into the locker room.
The Reign extended its lead in the 47th minute after two Sky Blue FC defenders collided with Beverly Yanez inside the box, and Seattle was awarded a penalty kick. Rapinoe once again stepped up to take the set piece. On her attempt, Rapinoe struck the ball to her left, and Sheridan was able to get her hand on it. However, the ball deflected off the post and knuckled into the back of the net.
Just two minutes later, Seattle struck again. Nahomi Kawasumi played a ball from the right side of the field into the box where Yanez was wide open to the head the ball home for the 3-0 advantage. Reign FC then stretched the score line to 4-0 in the 56th minute when a Rapinoe cross deflected off of defender Erica Skroski for an own goal.
Sky Blue FC would not go down without a fight. In the 60th minute, Leah Galton was taken down just inside the box and awarded a penalty of her own. Kelley O’Hara stepped up to take the kick, and calmly put her team on the board for the first time that evening.
The New Jersey side would convert again in the 64th minute to make it a 4-2 contest. On the play, McKenzie Meehan sent a low cross into the box where Sam Kerr dummied it for O’Hara. The U.S. international blasted a shot point-blank towards Reign goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, who deflected the ball to her right. Galton followed the shot and slotted the rebound into the opposite corner for her second goal of the season.
Sky Blue FC continued to gain momentum and scored again in the 73rd minute off the foot of Daphne Corboz. Galton sent a low ball from the left side of the field into the box, and defender Kristen McNabb was unable to clear the ball cleanly. Kerr shielded the ball to open up a chance for Corboz from the penalty area, and Corboz converted her first National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) goal to close the gap, 4-3.
Three minutes later, who else but Kerr to score the equalizer and erase what was once a four-goal deficit. Corboz sent a perfectly-placed cross into the box towards Kerr, who headed the ball past Kopmeyer’s fingertips and evened the match at four goals each.
As time was running out, Sky Blue FC kept pushing to complete an improbable rally to win the match. However, it was Seattle Reign FC who eventually found the game-winner in the 87th minute. Rapinoe completed her hat-trick with a left-footed curler that found the upper right corner of the net and gave her club the 5-4 lead. The score remained at the final whistle, and the Reign secured the three points at home.
Heading into the international break, Sky Blue FC currently sits fifth in the NWSL standings with 23 points. Only five points separate the New Jersey side from the top spot.
Sky Blue FC’s next fixture will take place on Friday, August 4 when the squad hosts the Washington Spirit at Yurcak Field.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Seattle Reign FC
Date: July 22, 2017
Venue: Memorial Stadium; Seattle, Washington
Weather: 72 degrees, partly cloudy
NJ: 0 | 4 - 4
SEA: 1 | 4 - 5
27 SEA Megan Rapinoe
47 SEA Megan Rapinoe (Penalty Kick)
49 SEA Beverly Yanez (Nahomi Kawasumi)
56 SEA (Sky Blue FC Own Goal)
60 NJ Kelley O’Hara (Penalty Kick)
64 NJ Leah Galton
72 NJ Daphne Corboz (Sam Kerr)
76 NJ Sam Kerr (Daphne Corboz)
87 NJ Megan Rapinoe (Katlyn Johnson)
NJ: Sheridan, Skroski, Pearce, Killion, Corboz, Lytle, Stanton, Rodriguez, O’Hara, Hayes, Kerr
Subs not used: Casey, Meehan, Kai, Tiernan, Galton, Richardson, Mills
Head Coach: Christy Holly
SEA: Kopmeyer, Pickett, Barnes, McNabb, Mathias, Nairn, Utsugi, Elston, Rapinoe, Yanez, Kawasumi
Subs Not Used: Bauer, Crummer, Dallstream, Johnson, Reed, Schiffel, Stott
Head Coach: Laura Harvey
Stats Summary: SEA / NJ
Shots: 11 / 31
Saves: 8 / 0
Corner Kicks: 5 / 8
Fouls: 9 / 13
Offside: 6 / 5
30 SEA Merrit Mathias (Yellow Card)
80 SEA Megan Rapinoe (Yellow Card)
89 NJ Madison Tiernan (Yellow Card)
Referee: Greg Dopka
Assistant Referee 1: Brooke Mayo
Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Deuker
Fourth Official: Jeff Arthurholtz