Sky Blue FC (0-12-3, 3 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday night, suffering a 4-0 defeat to the top-ranked North Carolina Courage (14-1-3, 45 points) at Yurcak Field. With the win, the Courage clinched a playoff spot for the 2018 season.
“We put together a great first half against the top team in the league and we need to build on that,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy. “We mixed transition with possession and it was class. If we can do that, then we’re definitely going to be taking points in the future.”
Both teams exchanged some early chances, but the Courage found the lead in the 15th minute of action. The scoring sequence began off a corner that was eventually knocked to the top of the penalty area and sent to Kristen Hamilton towards the end line on the right side. Hamilton saved the ball from going out and delivered a one-time cross towards the far post, where Abby Erceg was wide open to head home the opening tally of the game to make it 1-0 in favor of the visitors.
Sky Blue FC nearly got itself on the board in the 25th minute when Carli Lloyd flicked a ball to Savannah McCaskill inside the penalty area, but North Carolina goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland was able to shift over quickly and make a point-blank save of her attempted shot.
In the 35th minute, Sky Blue FC had another very good opportunity to equalize when Amanda Frisbie penetrated forward with the ball all the way to the top of the box, then played a square ball to McCaskill who was open on her left. McCaskill took a touch, then chipped the ball over the top of the Courage defense towards the six and into the path of Sarah Killion. Killion headed the ball down towards the far post, but the bounce hit the frame and redirected away from goal.
North Carolina came out with more energy in the second half and got on the board again in the 55th minute. Debinha attempted to play a long ball over the top of the Sky Blue FC defense towards Lynn Williams in the center of the field, but Mandy Freeman headed the ball away. However, her deflection went backwards and into the path of Hamilton making a run in behind on the right side. She took a touch to draw Kailen Sheridan off her line, then played a pass across the box to Williams who was open to finish her first of the match and double the Courage’s lead.
Williams struck again in the 72nd minute when Debina played a ball over the top to find Williams making a diagonal run towards the left flank, creating a 1-on-1 with Sheridan. Williams then slotted home a near post finish to give North Carolina a 3-0 advantage.
Williams completed her hat trick in the 89th minute when she picked off an attempted pass back to Sheridan and converted the open-netter.
Sky Blue FC will return to NWSL action on Saturday, July 21 when the New Jersey squad hosts Portland Thorns FC at Yurcak Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. North Carolina Courage
Date: July 14, 2018
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 78 degrees, sunny
NJ: 0 | 0 - 0
NC: 1 | 3 – 4
15 NC Abby Erceg (Kristen Hamilton)
56 NC Lynn Williams (Kristen Hamilton)
72 NC Lynn Williams (Debinha)
89 NC Lynn Williams
NJ: Sheridan, Frisbie, Richardson, Freeman, Skroski, Thaisa (Tiernan-77), Killion, Lloyd, Dorsey, McCaskill (Beckie-63), Groom (Johnson-70)
Subs not used: Casey, Gibbons, Stott, Meehan
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
NC: Rowland, Hinkle (Speck-79), Erceg, Dahlkemper, Mathias, Debinha (O’Reilly-75), Zerboni, O’Sullivan, Williams, Dunn, Hamilton (Mewis-66)
Subs Not Used: D’Angelo, Roccaro, Kurtz, Jenkins
Head Coach: Paul Riley
Stats Summary: NJ / NC
Shots: 11 / 25
Saves: 10 / 5
Corner Kicks: 1 / 9
Fouls: 12 / 4
Offside: 5 / 4
85 NJ Carli Lloyd (Yellow Card)
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee 1: Ben Pilgrim
Assistant Referee 2: Tyler Wyrostek
Fourth Official: Szczepan Dziewa