In the New Jersey club’s season finale, Sky Blue FC (1-17-6, 9 points) earned its first win of the 2018 campaign, defeating the Orlando Pride (8-10-3, 30 points), 1-0, at Yurcak Field on Saturday afternoon. Carli Lloyd scored the game-winner in the 74th minute of play, and the team avoided a winless season.
“Needless to say, we are all excited to end the season on a win today,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy. “Before the game, we spoke about putting all of the previous results behind us and just focusing on this opportunity that we had in front of us. We came out with a mentality to just go for it, get it and keep it. These players are so deserving of this result, and I am really happy that they get to finish off the season with a win.”
Sky Blue FC nearly got on the board in the 7th minute of play when Shea Groom sent a ball to Imani Dorsey as she made a run down the left flank. Dorsey then took one touch outside the 18 before hammering a left-footed shot that banged off the crossbar.
The Pride quickly came back the other way as three minutes later, Christine Nairn sent a ball over the top for Alex Morgan, who appeared to be running into a 1v1 situation with Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. At the same time, Erica Skroski was making a recovery run to track down Morgan, and Skroski stuck out her leg to deflect a would-be shot. She then got to the loose ball first and played Christina Gibbons, who was able to clear it from danger.
Orlando had another close chance to in the 42nd minute when Chioma Ubogagu sent a through-ball to Sydney Leroux inside the box. Leroux cut the ball from her left back to her right to create enough separation for a point-blank shot in front of the goal, but Sheridan somehow got a piece of it to keep it out of the net. Madison Tiernan was able to collect the ball and clear it from danger to keep it scoreless at the half.
In the 63rd minute, Skroski made another defensive play to prevent Morgan from scoring the go-ahead goal. A ball was played to Morgan inside the penalty area, and it appeared she was heading into a 1v1 situation with Sheridan. Skroski again raced onto the scene to dispossess Morgan and send the ball back in the other direction, which kept the match scoreless.
Just three minutes later, Sky Blue FC hit the crossbar again, but this time it was Katie Johnson who shook the frame. Her left-footed strike ricocheted off the bar and in front of the goal mouth, but the Pride defense was able to clear the ball away before a Sky Blue player could get to the rebound.
In the 74th minute, Sky Blue FC was finally able to break the stalemate. On the series, Groom acquired possession in the midfield and aggressively raced towards the box. After drawing three Pride defenders towards her, she sent a pass to the top of the area to Lloyd who immediately rifled a right-footed strike that curved into the back of the net to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Sky Blue FC was able to finish the game strong and secure its first win of the season. With her six saves today, Sheridan ends the season with 107 stops. That is one more than Alyssa Naeher’s 2014 total of 106, but she finishes the year just a single save behind Washington Spirit netminder Aubrey Bledsoe, who set the new NWSL record with 108 stops in 2018.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Orlando Pride
Date: September 8, 2018
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 72 degrees, overcast
NJ: 0 | 0 – 1
ORL: 0 | 0 – 0
74 Carli Lloyd (Shea Groom)
NJ: Sheridan, Tiernan, Richardson, Skroski, Gibbons, Dorsey (Meehan-90+1), Killion, Rodriguez, McCaskill (Johnson-46), Lloyd, Groom (Hoy-84)
Subs not used: Casey, Pierre-Louis, Frisbie
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
ORL: Kopmeyer, Pickett, Zadorsky, Monica, Krieger, Nairn (Camila-83), Kennedy, Weatherholt (Van Egmond-83), Ubogagu, Morgan, Leroux (Hill-62)
Subs Not Used: Harris, Evans, Edmonds, Poliana
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni
Stats Summary: NJ / ORL
Shots: 18 / 20
Saves: 6 / 3
Corner Kicks: 1 / 9
Fouls: 9 / 4
Offside: 1 / 7
32 NJ Kailen Sheridan (Yellow Card)
Referee: Malik Badawi
Assistant Referee 1: Jeffrey Swartzel
Assistant Referee 2: Tyler Wyrostek
Fourth Official: Szczepan Dziewa