Sky Blue looking to make some noise at home against Boston

https://youtu.be/14yetCA484s

by TOM SLATER

They’ve proven to be adequate road warriors by picking up all four points this season away from New Jersey, but now Sky Blue FC hopes a little home cooking tastes better than it has lately.

Sky Blue has dropped its first two games at home by 2-1 scores to the Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash. And with the Boston Breakers coming in Friday, a victory at Yurcak Field is a must.

The Breakers might be just what the doctor ordered. Boston is in dead last place in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) standings — a place they have occupied often the last two seasons. They not only have lost all four games, but they have yet to score a goal. They have a new coach in Matt Beard and are now on their third goalkeeper of the season after Libby Stout and Abby Smith both fell with injuries.

But not all has been for the Breakers. Three of their four losses have been of the 1-0 variety. Defender Whitney Engen anchors the defense and United States National Team teammate Stephanie McCaffrey is a solid midfielder. Kristie Mewis and McCall Zerboni are also respectable NWSL veterans.

“The reality is that Boston, for everyone who has a high opinion on what they think they know, the reality is that Boston is a much better team than what their record looks like,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue’s coach. “They’re strong in front of the goal, they’re very disciplined and extremely hard working. They have hit the post five or six times as well.”

And on the other side, Sky Blue hasn’t exactly been tearing it up. After a 2-1 opening-night win on the road against Seattle, Sky Blue has struggled to score. They’ve only scored two other goals since — both by Maya Hayes — and have not been able to put together 90 minutes of quality play.

A bright spot has been the mix and match back line. Rookies Erin Simon and Erica Skroski have held their own with USWNT veterans Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara providing balance and leadership.

“It’s a good balance,” Holly said. “Erin is getting better each game and so is Erica. And Christie looks like she hasn’t missed a beat. And for my money, Kelley O’Hara is the best fullback in the league.”

But the offense has not gotten on track. Tasha Kai is still waiting to get more touches and rookie Raquel Rodriguez is still finding her way in the midfield with partner Sarah Killion. The team continues to wait for Leah Galton to graduate from Hofstra and Austrialian Sam Kerr to recover from an off-season foot injury.

“Sure, we wish we were scoring more goals and creating more opportunities,” said Holly. “We have confidence in our players and goals just don’t come from our forwards. In the next couple of weeks, we should be getting back some exciting players like Galton and Kerr. We’ll have Kelly Conheeney back and Tasha is getting better and better.”

This weekend may see the debut of New Zealand international goalkeeper Erin Nayler. Her paperwork is still being processed so there’s a good chance Caroline Stanley will be back in goal for her third straight match.

Holly is also playing part weatherman, too. With the lousy weather continuing to plague New Jersey, the call is for thunderstorms Friday night. But Holly is as optimistic about the weather as he is about the team.

“I’ve been watching it (the weather),” he said. “I think it should move through by 5 p.m .and we’ll be OK.”

As he hopes his team will.

Game time is 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on YouTube.


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