Sky Blue FC (0-3-2, 2 points) were able to find the back of the net even with Carli Lloyd gone on international duty, but it wasn’t enough as they lost, 3-2, to the visiting Washington Spirit (2-1-1, 7 points) on Saturday afternoon.
Although Lloyd’s veteran presence was felt in the Sky Blue attack, Savannah McCaskill easily settled into her place up top, notching an assist on the day and creating several more opportunities as a result.
In fact, the bigger absence felt by Sky Blue was that of starting goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, called up by Canada for a friendly ahead of their final World Cup roster announcement.
With Sheridan gone, backup goalkeeper Didi Haracic battled between the pipes for Sky Blue, tallying four saves on the day. Although it was a valiant effort for a keeper who has seen few minutes in the NWSL thus far, Sheridan likely would have made a stop or two that Haracic did not, which could have been the difference for Sky Blue.
On the other side of the field, Raquel Rodriguez and Imani Dorsey both scored their first goals of the year in the match, but Cheyna Matthews finished the day with a brace and rookie Jordan DiBiasi added a single to hand the Spirit their second win of the season, both of which have been against Sky Blue.
Matthews, who was especially dangerous in the season opener against Sky Blue but was unable to score, didn’t have the same luck on Saturday, opening up scoring on the day in the 21st minute. Matthews received a high pass inside the Spirit’s final third, but her first touch almost got away from her. With the Sky Blue defense all around her, Matthews maneuvered the ball over to the near corner of the box, where goalkeeper Didi Haracic, and three Sky Blue players swarm her, but Matthews is able to chip all of them to send the ball in for the Spirit’s opening goal.
Rodriguez brought the game back level in the 32 minute, after McCaskill made a run down the far side and looked as though she was going to go head-to-head with Bledsoe. However, seeing a better scoring opportunity developing off to her right, McCaskill unselfishly passed the ball over to Rodriguez, who one-timed her shot into the back of the net for the equalizer.
The game went into halftime still locked at one, but the Spirit put away two goals in the second half to reclaim the lead. The first was a team goal finished by DiBiasi in the 55th minute. The goal-scoring play started near the Spirit’s own 18, with the Spirit doing well to possess and move the ball down the field while evading the defensive efforts of Sky Blue. After a series of passes between the Spirit’s resident Aussies, Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison, DiBiasi steps just inside the 18 and blasts a shot that nearly takes her teammate Ashley Hatch out before finding the back of the net.
Matthews then completed her brace in the 68th minute after Cali Farquharson made a blazing central run before sending a through ball for Matthews, who flawlessly finished the opportunity under pressure for her second of the day.
Sky Blue was able to get one back in the 80th minute through Dorsey, who had previously missed a scoring opportunity by opting to attempt to volley it in instead of heading it. Dorsey did not make the same mistake twice, heading the ball past Bledsoe for the 2018 NWSL Rookie of the Year’s first goal of the new season.
However, Dorsey was not the last player to put the ball into the back of the net. Hatch looked to have once again given the Spirit a multi-goal lead after going 1v1 with Harcic, who raced off her line and made an initial point-blank save only to have Hatch send a follow-up shot into an open goal afterwards. Haracic got saved by the whistle though, as Hatch was ruled to have touched the ball with her hand following Haracic’s deflection.
The final whistle blew 10 minutes after Hatch’s attempt on goal, bringing the game to a disappointing 2-3 loss for Sky Blue. Sky Blue remains in eighth place in league standings, just one point above the Orlando Pride for the time being.
Sky Blue next travels to Tacoma on Saturday, May 18, to take on Reign FC for the first time this year. That game will kick off at 4 p.m. ET.