Sky Blue FC (0-8-2, 2 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Friday night, earning its second point of the 2018 campaign after playing to a scoreless draw against the Washington Spirit (2-7-3, 9 points) at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey. Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan secured the shutout with a late penalty kick save off an attempt by Spirit’s Andi Sullivan.
“Of course, it is a bit frustrating to not come away with the win,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy. “I am really proud of the way we played, and we did a great job of defending as a unit. [Sheridan] made an incredible save on the penalty kick, and I feel like that will be our tipping point. We got the shutout here tonight, and now we are poised to really get things going.”
Sky Blue FC played tonight’s match with six players away on international duty, which led to several changes in the starting lineup. McKenzie Meehan and Imani Dorsey both made their first starts of the season in the Sky Blue FC attack. Domi Richardson received her second starting nod of the year on the back line, and Erica Skroski also returned after a two-game absence due to injury.
Both teams created several scoring chances throughout the first half, but nothing that posed too much of a threat. The best opportunity came right before halftime when Sky Blue FC worked the ball around the penalty area and eventually found defender Christina Gibbons open on the right side. She played a ball towards the middle, attempting to find Madison Tiernan, but it just missed the mark. However, Katie Johnson was able to run onto it and attempt a shot from the six-yard line. Washington goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe read the play and came out to make a big block to maintain the shutout before heading to the locker room.
Sky Blue FC continued to carry momentum into the second half, starting with a sequence in the 51st minute that began with a Shea Groom throw-in to Meehan. After taking a touch to settle the ball, Meehan nutmegged a defender before playing Tiernan at the top of the box. Tiernan then dribbled towards the near post before centering a ball for Johnson that was just beyond her reach. Before Johnson could recover, the ball was cleared.
In the 58th minute, midfielder Sarah Killion sent a ball down the right flank into space for Johnson to run onto. As she approached the endline, the Mexico international played a hard roller towards the middle of the box for Groom, who fired a shot that forced a tough save from Bledsoe. As Groom tried to recover the rebound, Bledsoe secured the ball just in time.
In the 78th minute, a penalty kick was awarded to the Washington Spirit. Stepping up to take the attempt was Sullivan, and her shot went slightly towards the right but still in reach of Sheridan. The Canada international read the play correctly and dove to her left to block the shot and push the ball out of bounds for a corner.
Sky Blue continued to push for the go-ahead goal, but at the final whistle, the score remained 0-0 and the New Jersey club settled for its second tie of the season. Sheridan earned her first shutout of the 2018 campaign.
Up next for Sky Blue FC is a three-game road trip, starting with Orlando on Saturday, June 16th. The team will return to Yurcak Field on July 7 when the New Jersey side hosts the Chicago Red Starts. The kickoff time has changed for this contest and will now start at 7 p.m. ET.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Washington Spirit
Date: June 8, 2018
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 78 degrees, sunny
NJ: 0 | 0 - 0
WAS: 0 | 0 – 0
NJ: Sheridan, Skroski, Richardson, Freeman, Gibbons, Groom, Killion, Meehan, Dorsey (Abam-71), Johnson, Tiernan (Frisbie-86)
Subs not used: Gunion, Mills, Pierre-Louis, Benintente
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
WAS: Bledsoe, Dyadasco, Church, Johnson, Smith, Sullivan, Dougherty Howard, Proffitt, Banini, Huster, Weimer (Lohman-57)
Subs Not Used: Wys, DeBree, Haracic, Hatch, Huster
Head Coach: Jim Gabarra
Stats Summary: NJ / WAS
Shots: 20 / 11
Saves: 3 / 7
Corner Kicks: 5 / 5
Fouls: 10 / 5
Offside: 8 / 5
39 NJ McKenzie Meehan (Yellow Card)
50 WAS Meggie Dougherty Howard (Yellow Card)
67 NJ Sarah Killion (Yellow Card)
88 WAS Caprice Dyadasco (Yellow Card)
Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referee 1: Gjovani Bori
Assistant Referee 2: Kevin Lock
Fourth Official: Luis Arroyo