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Sky Blue hold Spirit to 1-1 draw in series finale

Sarah Killion scored the equalizer in the 87th minute to earn Sky Blue a point on the road.

Sarah Killion scored the late-game equalizer to earn Sky Blue a point on the road against the Spirit.
Tom Salus, Once a Metro

In a Sunday morning showdown necessitated by inclement weather in the Maryland area Saturday night, Sky Blue FC (0-16-6, 6 points.) drew the Washington Spirit (2-17-5, 11 points), 1-1, in the third and final meeting of the two teams this year. After a scoreless first half, substitute Arielle Ship gave the home side the lead in the 71st minute, but veteran midfielder Sarah Killion equalized for Sky Blue in the 87th minute.

Sky Blue had the opportunity to get on the board first after National Team Replacement signee Tiffany McCarty, returning to the Spirit after her previous stint with the team in 2013, was whistled for fouling Killion inside the far corner of the box. With their usual penalty taker, Carli Lloyd, away on international duty, Shea Groom stepped to the spot for Sky Blue, but she sent the resulting kick off the crossbar, where it deflected it out and back into play before going out for a Sky Blue corner.

Despite the missed penalty, Sky Blue dominated the first half, outshooting the Spirit 11-3 (3-1 SOG), with Madison Tiernan and Jen Joy each contributing three shots, and enjoying the majority of the possession. However, those stats are of little consolation with the score remaining deadlocked 0-0 at intermission.

Sky Blue came out of halftime the same way they entered it, but it was the Spirit that would strike first. Ship, who entered in the 58th minute for just her second appearance of the season after suffering an ACL tear last year, put the home side in the lead less than 15 minutes after entering the match.

Ship, with a shot from just outside the box, forced Sheridan to make a diving save to deny her chance. Francisca Ordega was there, though, and attempted to knock in the rebound, only to have Sheridan knock her shot wide of the post. Ordega didn’t give up though, and sent another shot across the goal mouth that Sheridan once again got a hand to but was unable to punch clear of danger, and Ship was able to half volley the deflection into the back of the net for the Spirit goal. The goal was the first for the Spirit in 765 minutes of play.

McKenzie Meehan nearly brought the score back level in the 78th minute, only to see her shot deflect off the woodwork. Instead, it would be Killion who scored the equalizer in the final minutes of the second half with a long-range strike. Tiernan sent a low cross into the box, which Shea Groom dummied for Killion, who finished the chance to prevent the Spirit from walking away with the win.

While Sunday’s contest was the Spirit’s season finale, Sky Blue has two games remaining. They will next travel to Chicago on Tuesday, September 4, to play in a match rescheduled from July 28 due to flight cancellations for Sky Blue. They close out their season at home on Saturday, September 8 against the Orlando Pride.

Sky Blue can overtake the Spirit in league standings and avoid a last-place finish with wins in both of those matches.