Early Freels Strike Ices Sky Blue Win Over UNC

Sky Blue Striker Maya Hayes, courtesy Sky Blue FC, Dennis Schneidler

NWSL Beatwriter

On a field that was shoveled free of snow by staff, players and fans just before the game, midfielder Katy Freels scored Sky Blue FC’s only goal in a win over the University of North Carolina.

Freels struck just six minutes into the game off a feed from forward Maya Hayes. It was her second preseason goal and would prove decisive as neither team would find the net again.

Sky Blue welcomed star Nadia Nadim and rookie Shade Pratt into the starting eleven for their first action of the preseason. Nadim replaced midfielder Shawna Gordon, while Pratt came in for Rachel Breton, who left the team this week to play for the Norwegian side, Amazon Grimstad FK. Nadim played the first half, while Pratt played the full 90 in her bid to answer the team’s questions at fullback. Trialist Gibby Wagner earned her second start as did rookies Sarah Killion and Kristin Grubka. The side was captained by goalkeeper Brittany Cameron.

“We are still trying to figure out some things, positionally and tactically, in what we are doing, so this was a great test for us,” said Cameron, who played the full game after splitting time with Aubrey Bledsoe, her competition for the starting job in goal, against St. John’s last week.

The start of the game at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor was delayed an hour, as everyone present pitched in to clear the field from yesterday’s snowstorm. Players spent the afternoon dodging drifts on balls that went out of play.

In addition to Nadim and Pratt, former United States national team defender Jen Grubb saw her first action since signing with Sky Blue this week. She replaced Nikki Stanton in the 75th minute and slotted in at right back.

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