Sky Blue FC (2-11-3, 9 points) ended its time away from home on Wednesday night in Utah, where they fell, 3-0, to a Christen Press-led Royals FC (6-6-3, 21 points). With the result, Sky Blue ends its three-game road trip with only one point to show for.
Press scored two goals inside of two minutes to earn a brace and the win, while Amy Rodriguez, who scored the game winner in Sky Blue’s last trip to Utah, added a second-half single of her own to finish out the scoring.
“We knew today was a ‘do or die’ type game where we felt like we had a must-win,” Rodriguez said in her post-game press conference. “We decided before the game started that we were going to leave it all out there,
“Laura [Harvey], the coach, had said that we need to be ruthless, on our front foot, do not stop. And I think that’s what you saw tonight, and I think that’s why we walked away with three points.”
And ruthless they were, especially Christen Press, who scored her first goal in the 27th minute before completing her brace in the 29th.
Press’s first goal came after midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta made a run down the middle of the field and sent a pass up for Press. Although Sky Blue defender Erica Skroski got a foot on the ball, she was ultimately unable to prevent Press a look on goal, as she slid to the turf and Press stayed upright.
That left Press close to goal with nothing but Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan between her and the back of the net, and Press angled her shot out of Sheridan’s reach and sent it bouncing into the back of the net.
Moments later, Press struck for the second time, once again connecting on a pass from LaBonta. This time, LaBonta was by the near endline and sent a cross into the box, where Press made a run toward goal. Press one-timed her shot past Sheridan’s diving attempt at a save and into the left corner of the goal.
The final goal of the night came in the opening minutes of the second half, as Rodriguez made a run toward the penalty spot while Utah forward Mallory Weber dribbled down the near side. Weber sent a quick pass in to Rodriguez, who half-volleyed the bouncing pass past Sheridan in the 48th minute for the final goal of the night.
In all, it was a dominant performance for the Royals, who had not won a match since their 1-0 win over Sky Blue on June 15. Utah outshot the visitors, 23-13, putting 12 shots on goal in comparison to Sky Blue’s three.
Despite having Carli Lloyd back in the starting 11 after a short stint away for the U.S.’s first World Cup Victory Tour match, it was the rookies that led Sky Blue offensively against the Royals. Forward Paige Monaghan led Sky Blue with five shots and one on target, while Julie James Doyle was second with one shot on goal in two attempts.
Sheridan once again kept Sky Blue in the game as much as possible, tallying eight saves on the night and preventing Press, who led the Royals with seven shots on goal (11 shots total), from adding to her scoring account.
“I think the Sky Blue goalkeeper (Sheridan), she’s fantastic. She had some good saves,” Press said in her postgame comments after the game. “I’m still frustrated that I wasn’t able to get another one because the team put me in a position to score more goals tonight than I did.”
Sky Blue will now return home, where they will enjoy some much-needed rest over a bye weekend before returning to Yurcak Field on Wednesday, Aug. 14 to face off against the third-ranked Chicago Red Stars, in yet another midweek clash.
Full highlights for #UTAvNJ are below.