Despite a valiant effort between the posts by goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, Sky Blue FC opened its 2019 home slate with a 1-0 loss to the Houston Dash.
Sheridan made 10 saves on the day to hold the visitors scoreless until late in the second half, when Sofia Huerta was able to finally sneak one past the Canadian keeper.
The Dash were the more potent side for most of the day, outshooting Sky Blue 19-8 (11-1 SOG) and keeping Sheridan busy in net.
Sheridan’s first save came in the 10th minute when her Canadian teammate Nichelle Prince attempted to chip the keeper, only to have Sheridan stuff her shot and deny her the opening goal.
.@nichelleprince7 going to need to do better to get the best of @Kailen_Sheridan.— NWSL (@NWSL) April 20, 2019
0-0 #NJvHOU | @YahooSports | https://t.co/gECmVpE0TN pic.twitter.com/uZuRdRyGeL
Sky Blue had a near golden opportunity in the first half to open up scoring on the day when a pair of Dash defenders took Carli Lloyd down inside the area in the 26th minute. The veteran midfielder known for her penalty kicks stepped to the spot, but her attempt ricocheted off the woodwork to deny Sky Blue from taking the lead.
JUUUUUST a bit outside. PK missed for @SkyBlueFC.— NWSL (@NWSL) April 20, 2019
0-0 #NJvHOU | @YahooSports | https://t.co/gECmVpE0TN pic.twitter.com/lPDMKOPANy
Nahomi Kawasumi also had a chance towards the end of the first half when a scramble inside the box found the ball at her feet. Kawasumi put her shot on frame, but the Dash defense was able to clear it off the line to send the match into halftime still locked at zero.
Kawasumi was called into defensive action in the second half, helping Sheridan prevent the Dash from taking the lead when the keeper failed to clear a Rachel Daly attempt that she managed to stop with her foot. Kawasumi had Sheridan’s back and was able to clear the ball off the line to deny the Dash the opportunity.
Sheridan made save after save until well in the second half, when the Dash snuck onto the board. The Dash defense stripped Sky Blue of possession and then sent a long ball forward to Daly, who was making a run towards goal. Sheridan came off her line to force the England international into a 1-v-1, and Sheridan ultimately was able to rob Daly of the attempt with her foot.
Defender Erica Skroski didn’t get enough on her clearance attempt, and the ball fell right to Huerta, whose shot deflected off of Sky Blue center back Estelle Johnson to prevent Sheridan, back on her line, from being able to make the save.
At first if you don't succeed... try, try again. @schuerta bags her seventh career goal against @SkyBlueFC.— NWSL (@NWSL) April 20, 2019
0-1 #NJvHOU | @YahooSports | https://t.co/gECmVpE0TN pic.twitter.com/doIKxz1B9C
Despite Sky Blue leaving the match empty-handed, Sheridan, who was named Sky Blue’s Player of the Match for her efforts, did not see the result as a total loss for the team.
“It was a good step forward for the team technically and mentally,” Sheridan said in the team’s official post-game release. “Tactically, I think the biggest thing for us is not taking a step back, making sure we push every week to go forward.
“We are on a good momentum, and it’s the beginning of the season. Time to just push forward, full steam ahead.”
Sky Blue will next host Portland Thorns FC on Sunday, April 28 at 6 p.m. ET. The match will be both clubs’ 2019 World Cup send-off match as several of their international players, including Carli Lloyd for Sky Blue, will depart their clubs to report to their respective national team camps ahead of the major international tournament.
Full highlights for NJvHOU are below.
#Highlights: Stop us if you've heard this one before, but @HoustonDash's @schuerta scored against @SkyBlueFC. #NJvHOU pic.twitter.com/UggZ8Ds2bs— NWSL (@NWSL) April 21, 2019