Sky Blue Goes for Two in a Row, Against Houston

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By TOM SLATER

sky blue logoAfter playing four of five games on the road early in the National Women’s Soccer League season, Sky Blue returns home after last week’s 3-1 win against the Dash in Houston.

The location (Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway) is different, but the opponent for Sky Blue (2-2-1, 7 points) on Saturday (4 p.m.; the Lifetime channel’s NWSL Game of the Week) is the same.

The win last week was a 2017 coming out party for Sam Kerr. The Australia international has had her share of chances, but little to show for them. She was more active in the 4-3 loss to Washington two weeks ago and then was involved in all three goals against the Dash (2-3-0, 6). Her effort earned a penalty kick for Sarah Killion, she set up Leah Galton and then scored one of her own to ice the game.

The three-goal outburst gives Sky Blue eight for the season, second only to Seattle’s league-leading 14.

“I think being this young, it takes time to jell,” Sky Blue Coach Christy Holly said. “But we knew that we would be able to score goals. It’s not a complacency or arrogance about it but it is a confidence that the goals will come. Against Houston, you could see we had a balanced game and that’s what we strived for.”

Kerr has been at the center of Sky Blue’s offense. Before last week hot goalkeepers, crossbars, posts and missed opportunities got in the way.

“We sat down with her this week in training and talked it through,” Holly said. “We went over different scenarios and she needed to play with more freedom and enjoy herself. You saw that against Houston.”

Galton, an English midfielder who played in college at Hofstra University, also got her first goal of the season, which was the eventual game winner. Killion, with three penalty kicks and a goal from open play at Washington, is the league’s leading goal scorer.

“We still have a few players looking to score their first goals and we’ll be excited to get them going,” Holly said. “We want to play with a good balance but also have those moments of magic. Compared to last yer we have matured and can create more chances and open up play. We want to play an exciting brand of soccer than will be entertaining as well.”

Sky Blue is back on the road next week, at North Carolina, before returning for a two-game home stand, against Orlando (May 27) and Portland (June 3).