PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Laura Harvey was seething after her team’s 2-0 loss to Sky Blue FC on Saturday, and with good reason.
Seattle Reign FC assured they would finish the weekend on the bottom of the table and the victory made Sky Blue FC co-leaders of the league.
Danesha Adams and Lisa De Vanna nailed first half goals five minutes apart to stake Sky Blue to their lead in front of 1,459 fans at Yurcak Field. They improved to 3-1-1 (10 points) to go level with Portland Thorns FC, who lead on goal difference and play at Chicago on Sunday. The Reign dropped to 0-4-1 (1 point).
“We were nowhere near good enough in the first half,” Harvey said. Asked to expand she said, “Everything. We weren’t good enough in possession. We weren’t good enough defensively. We looked completely (dis)organized. We looked like we haven’t trained. We did pretty much the exact opposite of what we prepared for. We just looked like a team that had never played together before.”
Sky Blue were the complete opposite. De Vanna set the tone by challenging just about every ball played by the Reign backline over the first 20 minutes, and Christie Rampone was sharp with every touch on defense. Rampone also played the 30th minute free kick that led to Adams’ first goal after Michelle Betos came out and punched it away.
“I was lingering at the top of the box and just hit it,” Adams said. “I kind of felt like she was coming based on the ball so I didn’t even challenge. I just kind of sat top of the box and hoped it came out to me and it did.”
Five minutes later De Vanna picked Kate Deines clean and walked in alone on Betos, who she beat to make it 2-0.
“One thing with Lisa, you can’t tell Lisa what to do,” Sky Blue coach Jim Gabarra said about De Vanna’s activity challenging the Reign backs. “You’ve got to play off of her instincts and players have to get used to her instincts.”
De Vanna had earlier created a similar chance for Sophie Schmidt, but the Canadian midfielder put a soft shot on Betos. In the second half Schmidt hit the crossbar on a pass from sub Taylor Lytle. It was the closest she came to extending her goal-scoring streak, which was snapped at three matches.
For all their shortfalls, the Reign nearly stole one back just before halftime when Jessica Fishlock was played in and beat Brittany Cameron clean. The next touch would have been a tap-in goal but Fishlock slipped as the ball trickled wide.
The Reign made an energetic start to the second half but had nothing to show for it. The closest they came was in the 68th minute when substitute Liz Bogus charged down the left flank and found Kiersten Dallstream for a point blank effort. Cameron dove right and pawed the shot wide. The save of the night kept the score 2-0.
“I thought we played a little bit better in the second half,” Harvey said. “Still wasn’t good enough.”
The Reign’s next opportunity to collect a victory will come Thursday night at home against the Washington Spirit, who are also winless.
“We’ve just got to be better,” Harvey said. “If we’re not then we’ll lose. We didn’t deserve anything out of the game tonight. We’d be lying if (we said) we did. We got exactly what we deserved, which was a defeat.”
Sky Blue are also heading to the Pacific Northwest, where they will play the Thorns in the NWSL’s first top-of-the-table clash on Thursday. A return match against the Reign is next Sunday in Seattle.
-Keelin Winters took a knock to her ankle in the first half and was removed shortly after halftime. Harvey said she has been carrying the injury for some time and did not look quite right to start the second half.
-Caitlin Foord had a solid game at right back for Sky Blue. Gabarra said she is getting accustomed to the tactics of pro-level soccer.
-Asked if there were any positives to take from the match Harvey replied, “No.”
-Cameron’s save on Dallstream goes alongside her opening day penalty stop on Adriana that preserved a 1-0 victory over the Flash.