Sky Blue FC (0-5-1, 1 point) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday night, suffering a 2-1 loss to top-ranked North Carolina Courage (7-0-2, 23 points) at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ. Midfielder Carli Lloyd scored her first goal of the season in stoppage time to avoid being shut out by the only unbeaten team left in the league.
“We started pretty well in the first half and created some dangerous opportunities,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy. “North Carolina is a team that is so good in transition, and they will punish you when you give the ball away. The two goals they scored were preventable, but they were able to capitalize on the situations. I do feel that we deserved a point, and I am very proud of the effort that our players gave tonight.”
Sky Blue FC created some scoring chances early in the match. In the 6th minute, Lloyd played a ball to Shea Groom just outside the penalty area on the left-hand side. Groom dribbled into the box, then touched the ball around a defender before ripping a shot that forced a diving save by North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. On the ensuing corner kick, Amanda Frisbee centered a ball that Lloyd headed towards goal before Katie Johnson attempted to flick the ball further, but it went just over the bar.
In the 16th minute, the Courage found the back of the net to take the early lead. The scoring sequence began with Debinha winning possession in the midfield, then playing a ball down the right flank to Jessica McDonald. She took a touch towards goal, then played a ball across the box where Crystal Dunn was able to redirect the ball past Sky Blue FC netminder Kailen Sheridan and into the lower right corner of the goal.
North Carolina doubled its lead in the 27th minute as Dunn played a ball into the box to Debinha who was making a run on the left side. She took a touch, then attempted to cross the ball between two defenders. Sheridan came off her line and attempted to collect, but was unsuccessful as the loose ball was sent home by Sam Mewis on the far post to give the Courage a 2-0 advantage. The score would remain the same at halftime.
In the 72nd minute, Sky Blue FC earned a penalty kick opportunity after Lloyd was taken down inside the box. The New Jersey native stepped up to take the kick, and her attempt was saved by Rowland who to dove to her right to deny Lloyd. Raquel Rodriguez followed up the rebound, but her shot was also blocked by Rowland to keep Sky Blue FC off the scoreboard.
The New Jersey squad finally converted in the fourth minute of stoppage time after being awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area. Rodriguez put the ball into play with a short pass to Sarah Killion, who laid it off for Lloyd. The captain hammered her shot into the upper right side of the net to convert her first goal of the 2018 campaign. The contest ended seconds afterwards to signal the final 2-1 result.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. North Carolina Courage
Date: May 19, 2018
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 61 degrees, rainy
NJ: 0 | 1 - 1
NC: 2 | 0 – 2
16 NC Crystal Dunn (Jessica McDonald)
27 NC Samantha Mewis
90+4 NJ Carli Lloyd (Sarah Killion)
NJ: Sheridan, Frisbie, Richardson (Tiernan-82), Freeman, Skroski, Lloyd, Killion, Thaisa (Rodriguez-63), Groom (Beckie-73), Johnson, McCaskill
Subs not used: Casey, Meehan, Hoy, Abam
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
NC: Rowland, Hinkle, Erceg, Dahlkemper, Mathias, O’Sullivan (Speck-86), Zerboni, Mewis, Debinha (Hamilton-78), McDonald (Jenkins-80), Dunn
Subs Not Used: Dalton, Roccardi, Kurtz, Eddy
Head Coach: Paul Riley
Stats Summary: NJ / NC
Shots: 8 / 28
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 3 / 10
Fouls: 11 / 11
Offside: 2 / 2
15 NJ Carli Lloyd (Yellow Card)
70 NC Katelyn Rowland (Yellow Card)
85 NJ Madison Tiernan (Yellow Card)
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee 1: Tom Felice
Assistant Referee 2: Tyler Wyrostek
Fourth Official: Justen Lopez