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Flash of brilliance: WNY routs leaders Sky Blue FC

Abby Wambach
Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach had a goal and an assist in Saturday's 3-0 Flash win over Sky Blue FC. (Photo courtesy Mark Novak/WNY Flash)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Both Sky Blue FC and the Western New York Flash came into Saturday’s match at Yurcak Field looking to keep streaks alive. Western New York was unbeaten in four, while Sky Blue had won five-straight and was unbeaten in six.

But after 90 minutes, only the Flash’s streak remained. Sam Kerr, Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach all scored for Western New York and Adrianna Franch kept a clean sheet for the first time this season as the Flash topped Sky Blue 3-0.

The loss, Sky Blue’s second of the season, came in front of 2,056 fans, one of the second-largest crowd at Yurcak Field this season.

Western New York didn’t waste much time in taking the lead. In the fourth minute Wambach pulled Brittany Cameron off her line, and one-vs.-one with the Sky Blue keeper, Wambach played a low ball across the goalmouth. Kerr was able to control the ball and easily put it into the Sky Blue net to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Although Sky Blue looked to counter, no one from the New Jersey side was able to get much going in the way of an attack through much of the first half. Kelley O’Hara had one of the best chances of the half in the 20th minute, but her shot from a Lisa De Vanna cross lacked much pace and was an easy save for Franch.

As the half wore on, both sides battled through the midfield, though the Flash had a slight edge in attacking, forcing Cameron to make several saves. Much of the Flash attack came down the right side, where Kendall Johnson struggled to keep up with Wambach and the rest of the Flash offense.

In first half stoppage time, that struggle led to the Flash doubling its lead. Manya Makoski slipped while trying to clear the ball, leaving Lloyd alone on Cameron well inside the 18. The Flash midfielder fired a hard shot towards the far corner that Cameron had no chance to save, giving Western New York a 2-0 lead as the game headed into halftime. The goal was Lloyd’s first of the season.

On the other side of the break, Sky Blue looked to cut Western New York’s lead in half, but the offensive force from a week ago could manage nothing more than a few shots wide of goal. After combining for five goals last Saturday, Sky Blue FC struggled to get much going offensively against the Flash. Sky Blue side had 12 shots on the night, although only five were on goal.

Wambach nearly added a goal to her assist in the 54th minute, rocketing a shot from 30 yards that Cameron got her fingertips on as it sailed into the crossbar.

Sky Blue started to pick up the pressure as the second half wore on, and Western New York gave the home side several dangerous set piece opportunities, but the Flash defense was able to thwart any Sky Blue attack. The New Jersey side’s best chance came in the 76th minute, when O’Hara was able to get on the end of a corner kick and head it towards goal. But Wambach was waiting to clear the ball off the line.

In the 83rd minute, Western New York would seal the victory, courtesy of Wambach. Kerr was able to carry the ball up the flank before playing a low cross to Wambach. The Flash’s leading scorer needed only a simple redirection for her sixth goal of the season. With the goal, Wambach is now the league-leader in scoring.

Between the United States’ 3-0 win over Canada on Sunday, Wednesday’s 2-2 Flash draw with Boston and Saturday’s win over Sky Blue FC, Wambach played 270 minutes in a week, scoring twice and adding three assists.

The Flash are now unbeaten in five, but coach Aaran Lines said that that wasn’t something his club was thinking much about.

“That hasn’t really settled in right now,” Lines said. “I don’t think we’ll look at it that way moving forward.” But asked about what it meant to take three points from the top of the table team, the Flash head coach cracked a smile. “Yeah, coming in, you see the field, beautiful field and you’re playing against the top of the table team, it’s motivation for our players,” said Lines. “Because that’s where they want to be.” The win puts the Flash (4-2-2, 14 pts.) two points ahead of the Boston Breakers for third on the table.

Western New York now heads to Washington to take on the Spirit next weekend, while Sky Blue FC will travel to Boston to take on the Breakers. Both teams will again be without their U.S. internationals as the U.S. plays South Korea on June 15 and 20.

Sky Blue FC (7-2-1) remains on 22 points, the same as Portland Thorns FC, but Sky Blue no longer has a game in hand. Sky Blue FC still holds a superior goal differential on Portland and the head-to-head battle. The two teams meet in New Jersey on June 22.

Scoring Summary:

Western New York 2 1 3
Sky Blue FC 0 0 0

WNY – S.Kerr (A.Wambach) – 4
WNY – C.Lloyd – 45
WNY – A.Wambach (S.Kerr) – 82

Lineups:

WNY – A.Franch, E.Johnson, K.Reynolds, A.Sahlen, B.Taylor, M.Zerboni(C)(V.Perez 86), A.Salem (A.Barczuk 90), C.Lloyd, S.Kerr, A.Martin(J.Robinson 64), A.Wambach

Substitutes Not Used: V.DiMartino, S.Huffman, P.Tajonar

SBFC – B.Cameron, C.Foord, C.Goodson, C.Rampone(C), K.Johnson, M.Makoski(N.Rangel 77), K.Freels(T.Lytle 55), S.Schmidt, K.O’Hara, L.De Vanna, D. Adams

Substitutes Not Used: M.Booth, M.Baker, J.Loyden, M.Ocampo, M.Thompson

Misconduct Summary:
WNY – K.Reynolds 50

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