Sky Blue Earns Draw With Seattle On Late Penalty

Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron, photo by Robyn McNeil, Sky Blue FC

by Chris Henderson
NWSL Beatwriter

Just as it looked as if Sky Blue FC’s scoring drought would survive another match, the hand of Jess Fishlock, the flag of the assistant referee and the foot of Nadia Nadim combined instead to bring the barren stretch to an end and salvage a 1-1 draw for the New Jersey club against the Seattle Reign.

Nadim’s penalty kick followed a scrum in the box that saw at least two Sky Blue shots saved on the line. The last, however, was adjudged to be an illegal block by Fishlock, presenting the the Sky Blue striker with a chance to score her first goal since the opening game of the season. She did not miss, sending keeper Haley Kopmeyer one way and finishing with a strike in other, to level the game at 1 in the 90th minute.

“For the team, I think it really gives us a huge amount of confidence,” said Nadim. “We had a lot of these tight games that we lost. Against Chicago it was really close, we had the chance to score 1-1, but didn’t and here it finally paid off.”

Fishlock was shown a red card for the incident. Her coach Laura Harvey said after the match that her player maintained that she hit the ball with her head.

That the Sky Blue had a chance to tie the game at all, was due in large part to some heroic goalkeeping from their deputy captain Brittany Cameron. Cameron made two good saves from Fishlock in the first half, the second of which came on a one-on-one breakaway. Then seven minutes into the second half, she made a diving double save off shots by Merritt Mathias and Keelin Winters.

Seattle dominated possession throughout the match, pressing high to win the ball back in dangerous positions. In the first half, Sky Blue were barely able to escape their own half with their first shot on goal coming just before halftime on a long distance attempt by Katy Freels.

The flow of the game was repeatedly broken up by fouls on Sarah Killion for Sky Blue and  Fishlock for Seattle, who was in constant conversation with the referee.

After half, Seattle continued to have the balance of the chances, although Sky Blue got some better looks at goal including a cross across the face of goal that Nadim missed by inches. It was the Reign who broke through in the 76th minute when a clearance of a corner fell to Lauren Barnes just outside the 18. She fizzed a shot into the lower right corner to give Seattle the lead.

Following the goal, the game grew even more chippy with Nadim and Sky Blue centerback Kristin Grubka picking up yellow cards for fouls on Fishlock. The Welsh international nearly doubled the Seattle lead in 87th minute, but her header fell wide of the goal. The lead stayed at one until Nadim made her shot from the penalty spot.

The draw moves Sky Blue into 6th place on 5 points.

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