FC Kansas City (7-9-5, 26 points) kept its playoff hopes alive on Sunday evening after defeating Sky Blue FC (9-10-2, 29 points) 4-1 at Children's Mercy Victory Field. Shea Groom scored a brace and added an assist in the victory while Madison Tiernan scored the lone goal for the New Jersey club.
The Blues got on the board first in the 42nd minute of play, starting with netminder Nicole Barnhart punting a ball past midfield towards teammate Sydney Leroux. Leroux won the aerial battle and headed the ball forward right into the path of Groom. She penetrated to goal with the ball, drawing the defense with her, before slotting a ball across the box towards Lo’eau LaBonta. LaBonta slid in to redirect the ball past a diving Kailen Sheridan for the 1-0 lead.
Just two minutes later, FC Kansas City extended its lead before halftime. Barnhart once again started the scoring sequence, this time with a long kick headed towards the center circle. LaBonta controlled the bounce with her chest, and then volleyed the ball backwards for Groom to run on to. Groom took two touches towards goal before striking the ball with her right foot to the opposite side-netting for the 2-0 advantage.
Kansas City stretched its lead to three in the 64th minute when Desiree Scott was able to dribble the ball on the left side of the field and into the box towards the six before flicking the ball with her right foot to Groom on the opposite post. Sheridan was able to block the first shot, but Groom jumped on the rebound for her second goal of the match.
Sky Blue FC would not be shutout as the New Jersey squad earned a tally in the 83rd minute. Taylor Lytle delivered a well-placed corner kick towards the six, and Tiernan headed it home for her second goal of the 2017 campaign.
Unfortunately for SBFC fans, the New Jersey side could not muster another heroic comeback as seen throughout the season. FC Kansas City scored for a final time in this contest in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Maegen Kelly made a quick start of a free kick opportunity and passed the ball to Leroux, who sped towards goal before finishing the late opportunity and lifting the Blues to a 4-1 result.
It should also be noted that Barnhart became the first goalkeeper to reach the centennial mark, making her 100th National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) appearance on Sunday evening.
Sam Kerr, who is in search of her record-breaking 17th goal of the season, will have three more games left in the regular season to try and break yet another NWSL record this season.
Sky Blue FC returns home to New Jersey next Sunday, September 10, hosting the Washington Spirit for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff at Yurcak Field in Piscataway. SBFC will not only need to earn three points at home, but will also need help from around the league if the club hopes to qualify for playoffs for the first time since 2013.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. FC Kansas City
Date: September 3, 2017
Venue: Children’s Mercy Victory Field
Weather: 89 degrees, hot
NJ: 0 | 1 - 1
KC: 2 | 2 - 4
42 KC Lo’eau LaBonta (Shea Groom)
44 KC Shea Groom (Lo’eau LaBonta)
64 KC Shea Groom
83 NJ Madison Tiernan (Taylor Lytle)
90+4 KC Sydney Leroux (Maegen Kelly)
NJ: Sheridan, Skroski, Freeman, Richardson, Mills (Benintente-60), O’Hara, Lytle, Killion, Corboz (Tiernan-64), Kerr, Hayes
Subs not used: Casey, Rodriguez, Meehan
Game Day Coach: David Hodgson
KC: Barnhart, Moros, Averbuch, Sauerbrunn, Taylor, Gobbons, Scott, Bowen (Ratcliffe-71), Labonta (Kelly-62), Groom (Flynn-87), Leroux
Subs Not Used: Tymrak, Parkhill, Newfield, Miramontez
Head Coach: Vlatko Andovnovski
Stats Summary: KC / NJ
Shots: 15 / 11
Saves: 5 / 5
Corner Kicks: 1 / 6
Fouls: 9 / 6
Offside: 7 / 0
Referee: Luis Guardia
Assistant Referee 1: TJ Zablocki
Assistant Referee 1: TJ Zablocki
Assistant Referee 2: Emily Fletcher
Fourth Official: Devin Blazek