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Kerr’s debut delivers Sky Blue first win since April

Photo Courtesy Sky Blue FC/Robyn McNeil

Photo Courtesy Sky Blue FC/Robyn McNeil

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — A fresh face brought a needed boost to central New Jersey.

Australian international Sam Kerr scored in her first game in a Sky Blue FC uniform to lift the last-place NWSL club to a 1-0 win over Portland Thorns FC on Saturday. The victory was Sky Blue FC’s first since the season-opener on April 12, a 1-0 win over defending champions FC Kansas City.

The victory snaps a 10-game winless stretch for Sky Blue FC.

Kerr scored in the 52nd minute when she rose to meet the cross from Maya Hayes and head the ball past Thorns goalkeeper Michelle Betos.

Kerr played all 45o minutes for Australia at the World Cup, where the Matildas beat Brazil in the round of 16 for their first-ever victory in a knockout-stage game. She registered one assist.

United States players for both teams — Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara for Sky Blue FC, and Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath for Portland Thorns FC — were in attendance but did not suit up for the match. The U.S. is fresh off what Rampone called an exhausting week following their World Cup triumph on Sunday, rally in Los Angeles on Tuesday and victory parade in New York City on Friday.

[MORE: Rampone will play 2016 Rio Olympics ‘if my body holds up’]

On Saturday, Kerr played the full match for a desperate Sky Blue FC side after participating in only one training session with the club. Kerr played the previous two seasons for the Western New York Flash before being traded to New Jersey in the offseason to join longtime friend and fellow Australian international Catilin Foord at Sky Blue FC. Kerr nearly doubled her new team’s lead in second-half stoppage time when she was in alone on goal, but she pushed her right-footed shot inches wide of the far post, leaving Portland in the match.

Seconds later on the other end, Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron was forced to make a diving save on a looping header from Genoveva Anonma to keep the match scoreless.

Cameron saved Portland’s previous best chance of the match in the 65th minute, when she stuffed reigning NWSL Player of the Week Sinead Farrelly on a point-blank header in the box.

Despite the victory, Sky Blue FC remains at the bottom of the NWSL table with 10 pts.

Portland, which won the inaugural NWSL title in 2013, sits third from bottom with 13 pts. The Thorns don’t play next until July 22 against rival Seattle Reign FC in a match that could set the league attendance record with up to 21,000 fans expected. They beat Sky Blue FC, 1-0 last week in Portland.

Sky Blue will play in Rochester, N.Y., on July 19 against the Western New York Flash.

U.S. national team players are expected to return to NWSL action next weekend.

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