No Second-Half Magic This Time for Sky Blue

maya hayes

By TOM SLATER

sky blue logoFriday night’s game could come back to haunt Sky Blue (7-8-2, 23 points) if they don’t make the National Women’s Soccer League  playoffs.

The visiting Washington Spirit took a page from Sky Blue’s book by spotting the home team a second-minute goal before scoring four unanswered goals in the second half for 4-1 win at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J.

The loss snapped the Spirit’s nine-game winless streak on the road for the that dates to last August, and the club’s four-game winless streak over all. Sky Blue’s winless streak is now at three, with two straight losses. They have yield nine goals over that span.

And this time there was no Sam Kerr to bail them out. Kerr was not in attendance after playing in Thursday night’s Tournament of Nations match for Australia in Los Angeles. Kerr and teammate Kelley O’Hara along with Washington’s Mallory Pugh were missing after also playing in the tournament.

Sky Blue’s Maya Hayes scored her third goal of the season 79 seconds into the match. Mackenzie Meehan, starting for Kerr, started the play with a pass from the left side of the penalty area. The ball skipped by Daphne Corboz but Hayes to slot it home at the far post.

The Spirit (4-8-3, 15) came out in the second half and applied immediate pressure. It paid off after 12 minutes when Arielle Ship received a hard pass from Estelle Johnson and beat defender Christie Pearce with a strong first touch. She accelerated in on goal and blasted a hard shot into far upper-corner for her first NWSL goal.

Fewer than 10 minutes later, the Spirit had the lead for good. Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe launched a long goal kick that bounced over Domi Richardson’s head and into Ship’s run. The rookie ran by the Sky Blue backline and past goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan before Cheyna Williams poked it home.

The rookie Meggie Dougherty-Howard scored her first NWSL goal when she fought off a pair of Sky Blue defenders and struck a right-footed shot to the left post.