On a memorable night in Boca Raton, Fla., in front of a sold out crowd of 3,286, Sky Blue FC beat host magicJack 2-0 to claim third place in the WPS. In a nice pre-game presentation, flowers were handed out to both teams, honoring the players who participated in the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany.
Previously undefeated at home, magicJack struggled to hit the back of the net all night. In the 15th minute, off a Therese Sjögran corner kick and Heather O’Reilly assist, Allie Long put Sky Blue up 1-0. magicJack put pressure on Sky Blue most of the first half, with a number of opportunities and shots on goal. Sky Blue goalkeeper Jenni Branam had a few quality saves, including a last second parry over the bar off a shot from magicJack midfielder Sarah Huffman. The combination plays between Huffman, Ella Masar, and player/coach Abby Wambach looked dangerous throughout the first half for magicJack and kept Branam busy.
U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Megan Rapinoe made her magicJack debut at halftime, coming on for Nikki Washington. Having only been in South Florida for four days, Rapinoe looked sharp and seemed to fit in nicely on the flank for her new club. Starting where they left off before halftime, magicJack pressed early, trying to break through Sky Blue’s defense. However, Carrie Dew and Anita Asante played a solid game in defense to shutdown magicJack’s attack.
Christen Press entered the match in the 60th minute for Ella Masar and continued to impress in her rookie season. Playing up top with Wambach, Press used her speed and skill to set up opportunities for her team. Countering the magicJack substitution, Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra inserted Casey Nogueira and U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Tobin Heath into the game in the 62nd minute. Nogueira, who came off the bench on Saturday against the Philadelphia Independence and scored a pair of goals, helped create the second goal of the evening for Sky Blue in the 68th minute. Her corner kick service hit awkwardly off of Wambach’s body and into the back of the net for an own goal.
While magicJack outshot Sky Blue 27-6, the game ended 2-0 with Sky Blue FC winning their second game in a row and grabbing sole possession of third place.
“This was a great road win, particularly against a team which was undefeated at home this year,” Sky Blue FC Head Coach Jim Gabarra said. “It was gratifying to see our team get this result because we have worked really hard to generate momentum and confidence. Getting these three points is a really big result for us.”
Notably absent for magicJack was goalkeeper Hope Solo, whose injured wrist could keep her out for at least the rest of the regular season. Team owner Dan Borislow said that he hopes to have Solo back by the playoffs (which start August 17/18), but he did not give a timeline for her return.
Florida Atlantic University accommodated the 3,286 fans by adding over 1,500 additional seats around FAU Soccer Field. Wambach also rewarded the fans by staying on the field for over an hour postgame to sign autographs.
Check out audio from the game here from Wambach, O’Reilly, Rapinoe and Heath.
More Photos from Jess Fainberg, who was at FAU on Wednesday:
More photos from Geoff Solomon, who was at Wednesday’s game: