Sky Blue postseason hopes dashed in Orlando draw

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by DAVE MARTINEZ

The postseason dream is over.

After putting up a valiant effort this summer to sneak their way back into contention, Sky Blue FC saw their postseason hopes dashed Wednesday night following a 1-1 draw against the Orlando Pride. That result, combined with a 2-2 draw between the Breakers and Western NY Flash puts an end to Sky Blue’s postseason ambitions.

Sam Kerr’s late tally fell short of the mark for Sky Blue, who leveled the match after a first half goal from Alex Morgan.

“We cannot ask for anything more of the players who stepped onto the field tonight,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “They showed complete application from the first whistle to the final whistle. We were a little slow-starting, but we truly found another gear in the second half to cause a lot of problems for them and nearly step away with three points.”

Morgan received a Maddy Evans feed, beating Caroline Casey on the left foot to put Orlando up in the 23′ minute. Sky Blue came into the second half inspired, challenging their Orlando hosts. They finally broke through in the 80′ minute when a Maya Hayes shot forced Ashlyn Harris into a save. Kerr was there to clean up the opportunity, tying the match at 1-1.

Orlando nearly scored again in stoppage time as Jasmyne Spencer’s point blank shot in the box was stopped by Casey. However, the attempt curled towards net forcing Kristin Grubka to kick the ball out of danger.

Sky Blue join the Houston Dash, Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City as the only teams eliminated from the postseason. The Portland Thorns and Washington Spirit have qualified for the playoffs.

Sky Blue host Orlando this Saturday at Yurcak Field.

NWSL Match Report 
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Orlando Pride
Date: September 7, 2016
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Attendance: 2055
Weather: 82 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 
NJ: 0 1 – 1
ORL:  1 0 – 1

23 ORL Alex Morgan (Maddy Evans)
80 NJ Sam Kerr

Lineups: 
NJ: Casey; Skroski, Rampone, Grubka, Simon; Galton, Lytle (Stanton-54), Killion (Rodriguez-76), Kerr; Kai, Hayes
Subs not used: Stanley, Goodson, DeCesare, Gordon, Conheeney
Head Coach: Christy Holly 

ORL: Harris, Levin, Monica, Kyle, Belanger, Evans (Hagen-75), Edmonds, Weatherholt, Witteman (Spencer-62), Morgan, Fields (De Vanna-88)
Subs Not Used: Savage, Berryhill, Pressley, Burkenroad
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni

Stats Summary: NJ / ORL
Shots:  17 / 16
Shots on Goal: 5 / 6
Saves:  4 / 5
Corner Kicks: 3 / 3
Fouls:  13 / 5
Offside:  7 / 2

Misconduct Summary: 
90+ NJ Nikki Stanton (Yellow)

Officials: 
Referee: Matthew Franz
Assistant Referee 1: Rachel Smith
Assistant Referee 2: Victor Vazquez
Fourth Official: Rosario Candela