Sky Blue Defeat Thorns FC in Historic Sellout, Miss Playoffs

Alex Morgan reacts after Brittany Cameron saves the penalty kick attempt. (Photo: Colin Keaveney)

By MC Bousquette

Sky Blue FC took down Portland Thorns FC in the first sold out match in club history since their inaugural WPS opener in 2009.

But that wasn’t enough to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive.

Nadia Nadim scored the deciding goal and Brittany Cameron played hero on the back end to earn a victory over the Thorns in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,547 at Yurcak Field.

“This was a really exciting game,” said Jim Gabarra, Sky Blue FC Technical Director & Head Coach. “In the end, there were a lot of goal scoring opportunities, and we were able to overcome some tough situations to get the win. I am really happy and gratified for the team, considering that these are the types of games that went against us in the first half of the season. In front of this crowd, it is very rewarding to show them such a quality product. Hopefully, this can go a long way to creating momentum for us off the field in the future.”

However, a 3-0 FC Kansas City win over the Boston Breakers was enough to mathematically eliminate the side.

The match commenced with a heavy Sky Blue offensive as Portland Thorns FC goalkeeper Nadine Angerer handled shot after shot. Kelley O’Hara opened with Sky Blue’s first shot on goal in the 9th minute, which ended in an easy save for Angerer. Sam Kerr blazed into the Thorns’ final third in the 12th, with the first threatning shot of the half, only to miss wide. A corner in the 18th minute looked like a tap-in goal from Nadia Nadim, but an offside flag prevented Sky Blue from making it onto the scoreboard. Sky Blue was back moments later, as a connection from O’Hara to Nadim gave Sky Blue the 1-0 lead in the 19th minute as Nadim notched her 5th goal of the NWSL season.

Sky Blue continued to dominate possession, occupying Portland’s half. The Thorns held Sky Blue off, managing their own attempt at a goal in the 28th, but were stopped quickly at the top of Sky Blue’s box.

The Thorns tried again in the 30th minute off a weak touch from McCall Zerboni, but Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron scooped the dribbler up readily.

Nadim penetrated deep in the 37th minute, but her short flip from the bottom post up to O’Hara didn’t quite find its mark as Angerer grabbed the ball from danger. The Thorns retorted in the 40th minute, as Christine Sinclair tried to rush Cameron in goal but didn’t make it to the ball in time to finish the opportunity.

The half featured consistent back and forth from both sides, but ultimately Sky Blue held the 1-0 lead as it ended.

The second half commenced with an even higher pace from both sides, as Lianne Sanderson replaced Kaylyn Kyle. Alex Morgan relieved Jodie Taylor in the 60th minute to an audible crowd backdrop. Morgan penetrated the box minutes later, taking a shot from a difficult spot. Sinclair followed up in the 67th minute, first with a shot bouncing off Cameron’s hands, and next nailing the crossbar off the deflection.

Kerr retaliated, roaring into Angerer in the 70th minute, but the keeper made a dynamic save to keep the score at 1-0.

Tobin Heath worked her way into Sky Blue’s box in the 74th, sending a perfectly placed chip to Allie Long on post, but Long couldn’t get the header on frame and missed just wide. The Thorns weren’t done yet, as Sinclair sent a connection in to Morgan in the 78th, but Morgan’s bullet of a shot missed just over the crossbar. Heath sent a shot of her own into the crossbar a minute later.

The track meet up and down the field continued, with few promising attempts from either side.

It looked like the tide would turn for the Thorns in the 87th, as Cameron tackled Sinclair at the top of the box and received a yellow card. But Morgan’s penalty kick was saved by Cameron, who made a second save after her first resulted in a poor deflection. The ball was eventually cleared by O’Hara, as Sky Blue maintained the lead.

After the match, Thorns Coach Paul Riley shared the severity of Sinclair’s injury, stating that it was a “bad injury” and that Sinclair “heard a pop” in her ankle as she went down.

In the final dangerous attempt of the match, Kerr made another run downfield, but her one on one ended with yet another save from Angerer in the 90th minute.

Coach Jim Gabarra looked forward, sharing the mindset Sky Blue look to maintain. “It’s critical for us to maintain the confidence and the momentum, and control what we can control. Our next game is out in Seattle against a team that hasn’t lost there… and in my mind they’ve probably been the best team in the last year and a half so it’s a great challenge for us to go out there and say ‘we’re playing well enough to beat the best team in the league.'”

Sky Blue FC face league-leading Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, August 29th at 10pm EST at Moda Pitch Memorial Stadium in Seattle, WA. 

Sky Blue FC vs. Portland Thorns FC

August 22, 2015 – Yurcak Field

Piscataway, New Jersey

Scoring Summary

SBFC: 1-0-1

PTFC: 0-0-0

19 SBFC N.Nadim (K.O’Hara)

Lineups:

SBFC – Cameron, Rampone, Foord, Cutshall, Levin (Hayes-85), O’Hara, Haagsma, Killion, Freels (Lytle-75), Kerr, Nadim

Substitutes Not Used: Bledsoe, Gordon, Stanton, Grubka, Filigno

PTFC: Angerer, Williamson, Farrelly, Long, Kyle (Sanderson-46), Sinclair, Taylor (Morgan-60), Heath, Zerboni, Polkinghorne, Kleiner (Ayo-78)

Substitutes Not Used: Betos, Shim, Johnson, Van Hollebeke

Misconduct Summary:

59 SBFC H.Haagsma (Yellow Card)

68 PTFC M.Zerboni (Yellow Card)

89 SBFC B.Cameron (Yellow Card)