On a night when a loss would have put Sky Blue FC in a potentially insurmountable hole to reach the playoffs, the New Jersey side pulled off a convincing 2-0 victory over FC Gold Pride at home in front of a sellout crowd Wednesday night.
Sky Blue FC came out strong in the first half with an intensity that the visitors could not match. The home side enjoyed the bulk of the possession but could not create a decent opportunity until the 18th minute when Yael Averbuch found Natasha Kai’s head on a corner kick. Kai was open at the back post, but her header went just wide.
The best chance of the night for Sky Blue FC came in the 35th minute when Rosana played Kai in behind the FC Gold Pride defense for a 1 v. 1 with goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.Kai only needed to pick a side of the goal to shoot at, but waited to long and dribbled straight into Barnhart’s hands.The visitors had a 1 v. 1 of their own in the 43 minute for their only legitimate chance of the half.
Christine Sinclair broke free of a Sky Blue FC defense that was holding its line almost at midfield, but she failed to even get a shot off after a 40 yd. run when Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Karen Bardsley smothered the ball.The two teams went into the half tied at 0-0, but Sky Blue FC clearly dominated possession and was unlucky not to be ahead.
“I thought that Sky Blue played extremely well today and were very effective in making runs and the way I look at it they were just buzzing around everywhere,” FC Gold Pride Head Coach Albertin Montoya said. “They had good energy and they played like a team that is playing for a playoff spot.”
Finally, just after the second half kick, Rosana put Sky Blue FC ahead 1-0 in the 46th minute header off of a beautiful Heather O’Reilly cross.The pressure only continued when Kacey White’s shot hit the post in the 59th minute. Two minutes later though, the home side found net again.Collette McCallum, who had checked into the game less than a minute earlier, played a ball over the top and found Kai, who buried the ball at the far post in the 61st minute.
Sky Blue FC continued to dominate throughout the rest of the match, something that made captain and interim Head Coach Christie Rampone very happy.
“I think everyone stepped up today and played their role, something that we really worked on this week in practices,” she said.
FC Gold Pride was out shot 22-6 on the evening and did not earn a single corner kick to match the seven taken by Sky Blue FC.Sky Blue FC now travels to Washington to take on the Freedom on Saturday at 7 p.m. in a critical match that will help determine the playoff fate of those two teams and the Boston Breakers. Anything less than a win could put Sky Blue FC’s playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.
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