A Developing Trend: Draws won’t help Sky Blue move up NWSL table

Sky Blue game

by TOM SLATER

It’s getting to be a familiar trend for the Sky Blue FC.

They play well, good enough to win, but instead settle for one point instead of three.

That’s no way to climb up the table in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). And that makes the next game even more important.

Sky Blue drew for the second time in two matches, this time with next-to-last FC Kansas City at home Saturday in a 1-1 game. Coming off the heels of a scoreless draw with first-place Chicago two weeks ago, Sky Blue find itself in the bottom half of the league table with just nine points.

And with Seattle coming to town on Father’s Day, garnering points won’t be any easier. Sky Blue sits at 2-3-3 for nine points while the Reign are 3-3-2 with 11 points.

In front of an enthusiastic crowd of 2,700-plus at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field, Sky Blue showed flashes of attacking play but were not accurate enough or lucky enough to put more than one ball in the back of the net. Many shots went over the top or were right at FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.

“It is a bit frustrating that we did not take the full three points tonight,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We had some really good moments, and our consistency continues to improve overall. Our team has been putting in better performances with each passing week, and that is a measure of where they are and want to be.”

The most frustrating moment of the game came in the 15th minute. Defender Erica Skroski, who showed her versatility by playing outside defender again, made a run up the right and served a ball in the middle of the penalty area where Kim DeCesare got her head on it and skied it over Barnhart’s head. The goalkeeper got at least a couple of fingertips on the shot and the ball banged off the crossbar. It came down and appeared to cross the line. However, center official Karen Abt waved to play on and FCKC tapped it out for a corner.

Social media lit up soon and the YouTube replays showed the shot appeared to cross the line.

FC Kansas City drew first blood in the 28th minute on a goal by Shea Grooms. The Blues striker was able to take a square pass from Erika Tymrak from 20 yards away. She hit a first-time left footed shot that swerved and went high over the head of goalkeeper Caroline Stanley.

Two minutes later, Sky Blue became level. Sarah Killion chipped one over the FCKC defense where Kelley O’Hara caught up to in stride. New Jersey native Heather O’Reilly pulled O’Hara down and Abt pointed to the spot. Killion calmly stepped to the spot and scored her second penalty kick of the year.

In an effort to get the offense going, Holly used his three substitutions to bolster his offensive weapons. Leah Galton made her first home appearance in the 57th minute followed by the high-energy Hawaiian Tasha Kai in the 67th minute and finally Australian international Sam Kerr made her first appearance of the season in the 75th minute.

The triple-edged sword upped the intensity slightly but there wasn’t a sharp connection yet.

“The first thing I said to Sam before she went into the game was just enjoy it. Have fun,” Holly said.  “She has worked so hard to get herself back onto the field. Just by being out there, she gives her teammates a huge burst of confidence, both in terms of who she is as a person as well as a player. We cannot wait to see what she does now that she is fully healthy again.”