Galton’s first goal gives Sky Blue FC important point on the road

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By TOM SLATER

It was just one point but it may be the most important point of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season for Sky Blue FC.

The visitors used the first professional goal from rookie Leah Galton to draw 1-1 with the Chicago Red Stars at Toyota Park on Sunday. The draw was important for Sky Blue (2-3-2, 8 points), who were routed in Western New York, 5-2, last weekend. Chicago (4-1-2 14 points) moved a point in front of Washington, whose match with Houston Friday was postponed because of weather.

Chicago is now 3-0-6 all-time versus Sky Blue

Galton, who came on early in the second half, scored her first pro goal in the 70th minute, thanks in large part to a wonderful serve by outside midfielder Taylor Lytle. Lytle got a ball deep on the right flank and had plenty of time to serve toward goal. The cross was intended for Tasha Kai but it bounded on the far post for Galton, who made no mistake with a low shot into far corner.

Since being activated last week, Galton has a goal and an assist.

Galton and Kai, who came on in the second half as well, gave Sky Blue FC some needed energy as the home team seemed ready to continue its dominance over the visitors. In a game where neither team had its United States internationals, there were few quality chances from both sides. Kelley O’Hara was missing for Sky Blue while the Red Stars were missing Christen Press, Julie Johnston and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

Still, using a 34th minute goal from Sofia Huerta, Chicago had the advantage and the lead for most of the game.

Huerta scored her first goal of the year when Danielle Colaprico threaded the needle and hit Huerta in stride at the top of the penalty area. Caroline Stanley came out to meet Hurerta, but the forward sidestepped the goalkeeper and put the ball in an empty net.

The goal was Huerta’s seventh NWSL goal — all while Press was unavailable.

Huerta nearly had another goal minutes later when she was alone on the left wing and cut back to right-foot a serve on gaol. Stanley punched her shot over the bar to keep the lead at one.

She had another quality chance in the second half when her strike hit the far post and bounded away.

Similarly, Galton gave Chicago’s defense fits late the in the game, making runs down the left side but twice was unable to hit for the tie-breaker.

Kai, who also had a close call on a head ball minutes before the goal, limped off in the 89th minute and was replaced by Nikki Stanton.

Before the match, Sky Blue FC activated goalkeeper Caroline Casey. Casey played the first two games — a 2-1 win over Seattle and a 2-1 loss to Washington — before Stanley took over. Casey takes the place of New Zealand national team goalkeeper Erin Nayler. Nayler was signed two weeks ago but never saw a minute of play. She has evidently been released although there has been no official announcement from the team.