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Western New York Flash 2-2 Sky Blue FC: Nogueira scores late equalizer

It was perfect. That is how Casey Nogueira described her 88th minute goal that gave Sky Blue FC a split of the points in a 2-2 draw with the Western New York Flash at Sahlen’s Stadium on Friday night.

“I am wide open on the far post and I was originally just going to hit it one-time and then (McCall) Zerboni I think was coming at me so I just touched it by her and just shot it,” Nogueira said. “It didn’t have time to drop. It would have been bad. I just went for it. I tried it earlier and totally whiffed it, so second time worked.”

Sky Blue FC looked active in the opening minutes as Western New York came out flat. The visitors almost capitalized in the 20th minute when Nogueira picked-pocketed Kandace Wilson and the ball fell to Eniola Aluko. She played a ball into the path of Angie Kerr, who had time put smashed a shot over the crossbar.

Seven minutes later, Western New York finally woke up and Edwards narrowly put the ball over the bar on a shot from 20 yards out. Despite Sky Blue FC’s control of the midfield, it was the Flash that broke through first in the 39th minute when Gemma Davison served a ball from the right flank into Christine Sinclair, who headed it from six yards out. Jenni Branam dove and looked like she made an acrobatic save, only to see her attempt to push the ball wide fail to clear the post and the ball went into the side netting to give the Flash a 1-0 lead.

That lead was doubled just five minutes later when Caroline Seger played Marta, who flicked the ball into the path of Christine Sinclair. Instead of taking the shot on the breakaway, Sinclair patiently held the ball up and waited for Seger to run into the box. Sinclair’s ball went perfectly into the path of Seger, who calmly placed it into the open net.

But the match turned in Sky Blue FC’s favor in the 65th minute when it was referee Felisha Mariscal awarded the visitors a penalty kick. Flash goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris punched a ball clear right into the arm of defender Kim Brandao, resulting in a penalty. Allie Long converted that penalty kick to the right of Harris to cut the Flash’s lead in half.

Sky Blue FC continued to press for the equalizer and struck for it in the 88th minute through Nogueira’s wonderful half volley that rippled the far side netting. The draw keeps the Flash (6-0-2, 18 pts.) unbeaten, but Harris called the performance “crap” and was not happy with the result.

“They were a better team today,” Harris said. “We came out and we thought just standing out here would be good enough and clearly it wasn’t. I’m disappointed. I’m not happy. I’m not happy with the team. I think we were soft. A lot of things just weren’t good enough across the board and we are lucky to come out with a tie to be honest. It’s a wake-up call and we are not going to walk up to every game and expect to just step on the field and that’s going to – we are going to have a ‘W.’ It’s not going to work like that. There is too much talent across the board in this league and it’s got to be sorted out. I’m just disappointed right now, but we’ve got to move forward.”

After two home victories in as many weeks, the draw extends Sky Blue FC’s unbeaten streak to three games and give the team a 2-3-2 (8 pts.) overall record, temporarily good for a tie for third place in the standings.

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