Hayes Scores Go-Ahead Tally in First Half; Washington Finishes Pair in Late Rally at Yurcak Field
Sky Blue FC (9-11-2, 29 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Sunday, falling to the Washington Spirit (5-13-4, 19 points) at Yurcak Field, 2-1. Maya Hayes scored the go-ahead tally in the 43rd minute of this contest, but Washington then rallied for a pair of late goals in the second half to claim the 2-1 result.
Sky Blue FC created a handful of offensive opportunities in the opening half of play, nearly getting an early lead in the 9th minute. On that sequence, Sam Kerr split two defenders inside the box with a ball for Taylor Lytle, who saw her ensuing shot kick-saved by Spirit netminder DiDi Haracic. Kerr then headed the ball back towards the frame, but Haracic was able to claim possession of the delivery.
Following that opportunity, Sky Blue FC continued to create on the offensive end of the field, and their efforts paid off when Hayes made good on a chance in the 43rd minute. After Haracic booted a goal kick to the center of the park, Hayes picked it from the air and sent a header in the direction of Kerr. The Australia international then touched it back to Hayes, who raced towards the goal before being impeded on a diving save from Haracic. Kerr then stretched out to put a rebound on target, but her attempt hit a defender upon impact. She then knocked the loose ball back to Hayes, who touched around a defender before firing a shot into the back of the net.
Sky Blue FC was able to maintain that one-goal advantage throughout the majority of the second half, but the Spirit eventually leveled the count in the 75th minute. On a corner kick that was sent into the area by Shelina Zadorsky, Whitney Church snuck a header inside the left post to make it a 1-1 contest.
In the 85th minute, Washington acquired its first lead of the evening when Lindsey Agnew laid a ball off for Mallory Pugh. The U.S. international then touched around a defender before striking a hard right-footed shot that slotted under a diving Kailen Sheridan. Following that finish, the Spirit saw itself with a 2-1 edge.
Sky Blue FC fought for an equalizer until the final whistle of this match-up, and the New Jersey club nearly found one in the second minute of stoppage time. On that series, Kelley O’Hara was played into a 1v1 situation with Haracic, stepping around her before shooting a ball on frame that was blocked by a defender. O’Hara then gathered the rebound and played Daphne Corboz, who fired a shot that Haracic went high to punch away. The ball then landed at the feet of O’Hara, and the U.S. international hit a strike that Haracic again knocked away before it was cleared by a defender. Unfortunately for Sky Blue FC, this sequence would be its final chance at recording an equalizer, and the 2-1 tally remained when the final seconds ticked off the clock.
With the result this evening, Sky Blue FC has now been officially eliminated from postseason contention.
Sky Blue FC will play its final home match of the 2017 season on Sunday, September 24, hosting the North Carolina Courage for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff at Yurcak Field in Piscataway. Individual tickets for that match are available now online or by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849).
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NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Washington Spirit
Date: September 10, 2017
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 71 degrees, sunny
NJ: 1 | 0 – 0
WAS: 0 | 2 – 2
43 NJ Maya Hayes
75 WAS Whitney Church (Shelina Zadorsky)
85 WAS Mallory Pugh (Lindsey Agnew)
NJ: Sheridan, Skroski, Freeman, Richardson, O’Hara, Stanton, Lytle, Killion, Tiernan (Rodriguez-76), Kerr, Hayes (Corboz-67)
Subs not used: Casey, Meehan, Benintente
Game Day Coach: David Hodgson
WAS: Haracic, Kallman, Zadorsky, Church, Dyadasco, Kleiner, Dougherty Howard, Proffitt, Solaun (Pugh-62), Williams (Farquaharson-71), Agnew (Huster-85)
Subs Not Used: Wys
Head Coach: Jim Gabarra
Stats Summary: NJ / WAS
Shots: 21 / 16
Saves: 3 / 7
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 4 / 5
Offside: 10 / 1
Referee: Rebecca Pagan
Assistant Referee 1: Tom Felice
Assistant Referee 2: Ian McKay
Fourth Official: Jared Simmons