Sky Blue FC (0-8-2, 2 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Friday night at Yurcak Field, playing the Washington Spirit (2-7-3, 9 points) to a scoreless draw. Sky Blue FC created numerous chances throughout the evening, and goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan made a huge save of a 79th minute penalty kick to preserve the shutout and earn the point at home.
“Of course, it is a bit frustrating to not come away with the win,” said Denise Reddy, Sky Blue FC head coach. “I am really proud of the way we played, and we did a great job of defending as a unit. Kailen made an incredible save on the penalty kick, and I feel like that will be our tipping point. We got the shutout here tonight, and now we are poised to really get things going.”
The save from Sheridan was made after a whistle in the box went in favor of Washington. Stepping over the try for the Spirit was Andi Sullivan, who took a strike to the right side of the frame. Sheridan immediately chose correctly by diving to her left, not only making the save but also knocking the ball out of play to prevent anyone from collecting the rebound.
Sky Blue FC played tonight’s match with six players away on international duty, which led to a few changes in the Starting XI. McKenzie Meehan and Imani Dorsey made their first starts of the season in the Sky Blue FC attack, and both of those players made significant contributions throughout the night. Domi Richardson received her second starting nod of the season on the back line, where Erica Skroski also returned after a two-game absence due to injury.
The first half saw both teams create some good chances, but the action intensified even more in the second half. One opportunity of note came in the 51st minute on a play that saw Shea Groom throw-in a ball to Meehan, who nutmegged a defender before playing Madison Tiernan into the box. Tiernan then ran towards the near post before centering a ball for Katie Johnson that was just beyond her reach. Before Johnson could capitalize, the ball was cleared.
In the 58th minute, captain Sarah Killion struck a ball down the right flank that found a racing Johnson as she approached the end line. The Mexico international then played a hard roller towards the middle of the box for Groom, who fired a shot that forced a tough save from Washington netminder Aubrey Bledsoe.
After the 79th minute penalty save by Sheridan kept the game scoreless, Sky Blue FC nearly found the go-ahead tally once again in the 88th minute. On that sequence, Sheridan delivered a free kick from the midfield into the penalty area that eventually found Amanda Frisbie on the far post. Frisbie blasted a shot towards the target, but Bledsoe was again there to make the save.
Immediately following that play, Frisbie picked off a pass and sent possession back towards the final third. After Frisbie split two defenders with a feed for Johnson into the box, a deflected ball landed at the feet of Groom, who turned and struck a shot that Bledsoe was able to manage.
Despite the creative efforts on the offensive end throughout the contest, Sky Blue FC eventually found itself settling for a point when the final whistle made it a scoreless draw.
Next up, Sky Blue FC heads into a three-game road trip, first taking on the Orlando Pride on Saturday, June 16. The team will return home to Yurcak Field on July 7 to host the Chicago Red Stars. 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: June 8, 2018
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Weather: 78 degrees, sunny
NJ: 0 | 0 – 0
WAS: 0 | 0 – 0
NJ: Sheridan, Skroski, Richardson, Freeman, Gibbons, Groom, Killion, Meehan, Dorsey (Abam-71), Johnson, Tiernan (Frisbie-86)
Subs not used: Gunion, Mills, Pierre-Louis, Benintente
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
WAS: Bledsoe, Dyadasco, Church, Johnson, Smith, Sullivan, Dougherty Howard, Proffitt, Banini, Huster, Weimer (Lohman-57)
Subs Not Used: Wys, DeBree, Haracic, Hatch, Huster
Head Coach: Jim Gabarra
Stats Summary: NJ / WAS
Shots: 20 / 11
Saves: 3 / 7
Corner Kicks: 5 / 5
Fouls: 10 / 5
Offside: 8 / 5
39 NJ McKenzie Meehan (Yellow Card)
50 WAS Meggie Dougherty Howard (Yellow Card)
67 NJ Sarah Killion (Yellow Card)
88 WAS Caprice Dyadasco (Yellow Card)
Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referee 1: Gjovani Bori
Assistant Referee 2: Kevin Lock
Fourth Official: Luis Arroyo
Saker ShopRites Woman of the Match: Kailen Sheridan