Sky Blue FC (0-14-4, 4 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday night, dropping a 2-1 result to the Houston Dash (7-8-5, 26 points) at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rachel Daly scored twice in the contest to secure the win and keep Houston’s playoff hopes alive as the club sits four points back from fourth place in the NWSL standings.
“Defensively, we struggled to find spaces between the lines in the first half, and we had some lapses in our timing when it came to defending as a unit,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy. “Offensively, our attacks were very short and direct, which is not how we want to play as a team. In the second half, we played with more aggression and determination on the offensive end, and we were much more disciplined defensively. We showed a great deal of resolve with our second half performance.”
The Dash got on the board early with Daly converting in the seventh minute of play. The scoring sequence began with Kealia Ohai gaining possession and beating Christina Gibbons down the left flank with her speed. Ohai then cut inside towards the box before centering a cross inside the penalty area to find Daly for the one-time finish.
Daly appeared to have scored again in the 28th minute for give her team a 2-0 lead, but the ball was ruled to have not fully crossed the goal line before Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan got a hand on it.
Sky Blue FC went the other way with the ball and almost found the equalizer in the 29th minute. Raquel Rodriguez intercepted a pass in the attacking third and penetrated forward with the ball before playing Savannah McCaskill on her left. McCaskill then one-timed a ball with the outside of her right foot that split two defenders and found Imani Dorsey racing into the box. Dorsey one-timed a shot with her right foot that forced a diving save from Houston netminder Jane Campbell. McCaskill collected the rebound, but her shot went over the net.
The New Jersey club eventually evened the score in the 64th minute, starting with build-out play from the defense and working the ball all the way up the field to eventually find McCaskill for the initial shot on goal. Campbell blocked the attempt with her left foot, but Madison Tiernan was there to send home the rebound and make it a 1-1 game.
However, a handball in the box was called in the 73rd minute against Sky Blue, and the Dash was awarded a penalty kick. Daly stepped up to the mark and converted for her second tally of the contest, giving her team the 2-1 advantage.
At the final whistle, the scoreline remained in the favor of the visiting side. Sheridan recorded nine save throughout the contest to keep this match close. However, Sky Blue FC is still in search of its first win of the season with six games left
Sky Blue FC will return home to Yurcak Field on Saturday, August 18, when the club hosts Utah Royals FC for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Houston Dash
Date: August 11, 2018
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 78 degrees, overcast
NJ: 0 | 1 - 1
HOU: 1 | 1 – 2
7 HOU Rachel Daly (Kealia Ohai)
64 NJ Madison Tiernan
73 HOU Rachel Daly (Penalty Kick)
NJ: Sheridan, Frisbie, Skroski (Richardson-46), Freeman, Gibbons (Stott-36), Dorsey, Killion, Rodriguez, Tiernan, Johnson, McCaskill (Meehan-83)
Subs not used: Casey, Hoy, Pierre-Louis
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
HOU: Campbell, Comeau, Brooks, Polkinghorne, Chapman, Mothalo, Huerta, Hanson, Ohai (Jordan-90), Daly, Latsko (Kgatlana-68)
Subs Not Used: Prudhomme, Hahn, Van Wyk, Agnew
Head Coach: Vera Pauw
Stats Summary: NJ / HOU
Shots: 16 / 21
Saves: 9 / 5
Corner Kicks: 4 / 8
Fouls: 10 / 4
Offside: 3 / 7
Referee: Thomas Snyder
Assistant Referee 1: Tom Felice
Assistant Referee 2: Tyler Wyrostek
Fourth Official: Bardhyl Pashaj