Sky Blue dominates possession in 1-0 preseason victory

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There wasn’t a whole lot of scoring, but then again, this was just the start of the 2016 preseason for Sky Blue FC.

The New Jersey team held the advantage in the attack but could only hit the back of the net once – on a penalty kick – to take a 1-0 win over St. John’s University in the team’s opening preseason match.

Luckily there was no snow to clear off the Scotch Plains-Fanwood campus turf, but the cold temperatures and blustery wind made it feel more like winter than the first day of spring.

Natasha Kai, a familiar face to Sky Blue fans, was instrumental in the scoring as she slashed in the box and was brought down in the 37th minute. Last year’s rookie sensation Sarah Killion stepped up to make good on the penalty.

The match allowed Sky Blue to play 22 different players with two entirely different lineups to start each half.

The more established stars – Kai, Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara – played the first half, while the newer players got the second 45 minutes.

Three of four draft picks saw action. Leah Galston started the first half at striker while goalkeeper Caroline Casey and Rutgers defender Erica Skoski started the second half. Raquel Rodriguez, the second overall pick from NCAA champion Penn State, did not play. Neither did Australian international Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr.

O’Hara and Kai had chances to score in the first half. A couple of minutes before the goal, O’Hara had a clear shot on goal that was knocked away. And Kai had diving header off an O’Hara corner kick that was  tipped wide right before halftime.

In the second half, Kim DeCesare, the Duke product, had a couple of chances as she looks to recovery from an injury that caused her to miss a large portion of 2016.

Sky Blue continues its pre-season Saturday with a 2 p.m. match versus the University of North Carolina at Georgian Court University in Lakewood.–


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