Sky Blue FC (9-11-3, 30 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Sunday, hosting the first-place North Carolina Courage (15-6-1, 46 points) and battling to a 1-1 draw at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey. Sky Blue FC became the first team to tie with the Courage this season, and North Carolina will have to wait until its next game to potentially clinch the NWSL Shield.
Goalkeeper Caroline Casey earned her first start of the 2017 campaign and registered six saves for the match. The contest marked the first time Canadian international Kailen Sheridan did not start or play in goal since being drafted by the club this past January.
North Carolina opened up scoring in the 27th minute of action. Following a goal kick from Casey, Kristen Hamilton won the ball in the air and headed it into the path of a sprinting Ashley Hatch. After taking a few touches, Hatch struck a left-footed shot into the back of the net to give her club a 1-0 advantage.
In the second half, Sky Blue FC's efforts would finally pay off in the 75th minute. On a free kick opportunity, Kelley O’Hara sent a ball into the box that was initially cleared away by Sam Mewis. Domi Richardson recovered the ball and quickly played it back into the center of the area. North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland came off her line in pursuit of the delivery, but Sam Kerr got there first and chested it down for Raquel Rodriguez. Rodriguez then stuck out her foot and poked it into the goal to tie the game at 1-1.
The Courage fought to earn the go-ahead goal for the win, but Casey would not budge. In the 86th minute, Lynn Williams won the ball on the left flank and immediately penetrated to goal for a 1v1 situation with Casey. As she approached the six-yard box, Williams fired a point-blank shot, but Casey deflected the attempt to secure to 1-1 score line. At the final whistle, the score remained the same as both teams came out of the match with a point.
Sky Blue FC will finish the 2017 season in Boston as the Breakers host the New Jersey squad on Saturday night.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. North Carolina Courage
Date: September 24, 2017
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 92 degrees, sunny
NJ: 0 | 1 - 1
NC: 1 | 0 - 1
27 NC Ashley Hatch (Kristen Hamilton)
75 NJ Raquel Rodriguez (Sam Kerr)
NJ: Casey, Skroski, Freeman, Richardson, O’Hara, Stanton, Lytle, Killion, Tiernan (Meehan-90+1), Kerr, Hayes (Rodriguez-46)
Subs not used: Sheridan, Benintente, Mills
Game Day Coach: David Hodgson
NC: Rowland, Hinkle, Erceg, Dahlkemper, Taylor, Hamilton, Zerboni, Mewis, O’Sullivan (Debinha-71), Williams, Hatch (Doniak-65)
Subs Not Used: D’Angelo, Holstad, Ochs, Speck, Witteman
Head Coach: Paul Riley
Stats Summary: NJ / NC
Shots: 8 / 24
Saves: 6 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 13
Fouls: 7 / 5
Offside: 7 / 2
66 NJ Nikki Stanton
Referee: Lorant Varga
Assistant Referee 1: Gjovalin Bori
Assistant Referee 2: Jeremy Weed
Fourth Official: Henrik Karlsson