Sky Blue FC (0-14-5, 5 points) looked like it was going to win its first game of the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season on Saturday night at Yurcak Field as the club held a 2-1 lead against Utah Royals FC (7-7-8, 29 points) going into three minutes of stoppage time. However, with the last play of the game, Royals forward Amy Rodriguez scored the equalizer in the 94th minute to tie the game at 2-2.
“[The center referee] told me that post 93 minutes it was my fault that he added on extra time to the 93 minutes,” Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan said after the game. “He added on time to extra time because I was stalling the game, which was untrue.”
Sky Blue FC opened up the scoring in this match in the 14th minute of play. The sequence began with Madison Tiernan bringing the ball up field and passing it to Imani Dorsey on the left flank. Dorsey then cut the ball back towards her own half before finding Raquel Rodriguez in the middle just outside the penalty area, who then played a ball into the box for Carli Lloyd. A scramble ensued and Rodriguez recovered the ball and played it forward to Katie Johnson. Despite being pulled by a defender, Johnson managed to get a shot off with her right foot and beat Utah netminder Nicole Barnhart for the early 1-0 lead.
In the 48th minute, Sky Blue FC doubled its lead courtesy of another Johnson tally. Johnson was fed a ball over the top up the right flank for her to run on to. She flicked the ball over her defender towards the center of the field, and then tried to play a ball across to Dorsey. The pass was blocked, but Johnson ripped a one-time shot off the rebound and buried the ball into the upper left corner for the 2-0 advantage. The brace marks her second of the year, as well as the second at home.
With the home team looking to be in control of this match, Sky Blue FC suffered a setback in the 55th minute when the match was temporarily halted after a lightning strike occurred near Yurcak Field.
“Up until the lightening break, there was no other team in the game,” Utah Royals FC head coach Laura Harvey said. “The lightening break was the best thing that could have happened to us. And I said to my players in the end that if we had that grit, determination, heart, fight, ability from the first minute, we probably would have won the game, but we didn’t. We got lucky with the lightening break that we were able to refocus and regroup.”
Shortly after play resumed, the Royals managed to create a goal scoring opportunity and bring this game to a 2-1 scoreline. Christen Press switched the field and played a ball towards the end line for Taylor Lytle to collect. Lytle then played the ball back towards the top of the box for Rodriguez, who one-timed a shot towards goal. Katie Stengel was marked by Domi Richardson, and both players went for the ball. However, the ball deflected off the foot of Richardson and into the back of the net for an own goal in the 58th minute.
As the game approached the 90th minute, the 4th official indicated that three minutes of stoppage time would be added to this contest. Utah Royals FC eventually created one last chance in the 4th minute of extra time that ended with Press laying off a ball for Rodriguez, who scored the equalizer and resulted with a final 2-2 tally.
Sky Blue FC will now hit the road for a four-game stretch before returning to Yurcak Field for its 2018 season finale on Saturday, September 8, hosting the Orlando Pride for a noon kickoff.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Utah Royals FC
Date: August 18, 2018
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 80 degrees, overcast
NJ: 1 | 1 - 2
UTA: 0 | 2 – 2
14 NJ Katie Johnson (Raquel Rodriguez)
48 NJ Katie Johnson
58 UTA Own Goal
90+4 UTA Amy Rodriguez (Christen Press)
NJ: Sheridan, Tiernan, Frisbie, Richardson, Dibbons, Dorsey (Hoy-55), Killion, Rodriguez, McCaskill, Johnson (Meehan-66), Lloyd
Subs not used: Casey, Pierre-Louis, Freeman
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
UTA: Barnhart, Moros (Johnson-69), Corsie, Sauerbrunn, Bowen, Matheson (Stengel-51), LaBonta, Jonsdottir, Rodriguez, Press, Tymrak (Lytle-57)
Subs Not Used: Smith, Scott, Gorry, Ratcliffe
Head Coach: Laura Harvey
Stats Summary: NJ / UTA
Shots: 9 / 18
Saves: 5 / 1
Corner Kicks: 0 / 3
Fouls: 14 / 7
Offside: 2 / 6
39 NJ Sarah Killion (Yellow Card)
69 NJ Carli Lloyd (Yellow Card)
76 NJ Madison Tiernan (Yellow Card)
Referee: Guido Gonzales, Jr.
Assistant Referee 1: Amilcar Sicaju
Assistant Referee 2: Katarzyna Wasiak
Fourth Official: Luis Arroyo