Kerr Ties NWSL Scoring Record in Sky Blue Win

sky blue logoBy Sky Blue standards it was pretty boring.  A routine game with only one goal scored.

But after a week-worth of fireworks and drama, maybe it was OK for Sky Blue to have a routine 1-0 game. And besides, Sam Kerr scored a record-tying goal so how bad could it be?

Kerr’s goal five minutes into the game provided the margin of victory in front of hard working defense as Sky Blue beat the Boston Breakers, 1-0, at Yurcak Field. The win moved Sky Blue (9-9-2, 29 points) into fifth place, ahead of Seattle. They remain three points behind Chicago, who beat Washington Saturday night.

Kerr took a pass from Nikki Stanton after a give-and-go with Taylor Lytle. Stanton found Kerr one-on-one with Megan Oyster and goalkeeper Abby Smith, who was way out. Kerr’s first touch, 40 yards out put her past Smith and Oyster could not catch the Australian international who calmly slotted her 16th goal of the season, tying Kim Little’s record for a single season, set in 2014 when she was with Seattle.

“Someoe said congratulations after the game and I had forgotten about it,” Kerr said. “Kim Little’s a great player so it’s nice to be in the same sentence with her. She’s one of my favorite players ever to watch but at the moment playoffs are more important.”

Kerr had several chances in both halves, but they went wide or Smith came out to stop her. And in the 61st minute, everyone in Yurcak Field held their breath when Kerr collided with Smith who came out to stop a breakaway. Kerr stayed on the turf for a minute and was attended to by team trainers. She went off for a brief period before coming back on to a huge round of applause.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” Kerr said. “I have a pretty sore foot at the moment. It’s my good foot, not the one I had operated on [before the 2016 season.] I think I just got a knock on it. It’s sore but it should be fine.”

The victory was a huge lift for the Sky Blue defense, especially the rookie goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. After giving up 18 goals in the last four games, Sheridan was given credit for two saves but she was much more active than the score sheet would reflect. She knocked at least four crosses away and came out more times to prevent breakaways. And after a month that raised her goals-against average, she was steady in notching her third shutout of the season.

But she had help. Maddy Freeman and Domi Richardson did a creditable job in the center of the defense. Erica Skroski and Kayla Mills were solid on the outside. Kelley O’Hara, helping out a thin Sky Blue bench, came on late to top a breakaway from Tiffany Weimer with a slide tackle.

But the Sky Blue player who was in the middle of things was Stanton. She played a steady role in front of the backline. She had 63 touches on the ball and made six tackles, both highs for Sky Blue.  On the down side, she picked up a yellow card for dissent in the 57th minute. It was her fifth of the year and she’ll sit out next week’s game at FC Kansas City.

“It was big to get a shutout, it built our confidence as a defense,” Stanton. “We scored five last week but we  gave up four and we weren’t happy about that. We wanted to come in here strong, limit their chances and then make sure we get one to get the win. Going into the second half, we knew they were going to get chances. We wanted to get one or two more but the one goal held up.”

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