Three takeaways from Sky Blue’s loss to Western New York Flash

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There’s not much to say about a 5-2 loss in a game the Sky Blue FC were never effectively in.

Western New York Flash came out strong on possession, forced the action early by bringing people forward and were overall horrible hosts to the team from New Jersey.

The score was 4-0 by the half with Jess MacDonald putting two away. Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams added single tallies. The fact that Sky Blue won the second half, 2-1, didn’t matter much. What did is that Western New York Flash took the season series with a pair of victories.

“The credit tonight must go to Western New York,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “They executed their game plan well and punished us for our complacency.  The second half was closer to what would be considered acceptable for our standards, but we must be much better than what we showed tonight. We will now sit down and analyze the game to make sure that this type of performance never happens again.”

Here’s what you can take away from the loss:

Set piece defense needs to get better: It’s almost a certainty that Sky Blue will work on its defense on restarts. The Flash scored three goals in the opening half of set pieces. The first goal and the last goal of the half were scored when MacDonald headed in dangerous corner kicks from  Hinkle. The second goal of the game was after a free kick from Hinkle that found Sam Mewis willing to head the ball home.

On all three goals, Sky Blue FC defenders had chances to clear the ball away but only served to keep the scoring chances alive.

Even on plays when they didn’t score, Sky Blue looked unsure of itself. Even throw-ins were an adventure for the New Jersey girls.

To this point, Sky Blue’s ability to play team defense has been a strong point. It wasn’t last night.

The Flash are doing it right: Western New York have put together a roster that is low on star power but high on chemistry and work ethic.

Mewis and Hinkle are the two United States National Team members. And both are not certain to be on the roster of the summer Olympics in Rio.

They’ve traded for and had good luck in the college draft. In 2015, they used trades to get four first-round picks that found them Hinkle, Mewis, Abby Dalhkemper and Williams. All are starters.  This year’ first-year pick is Michaela Hahn. She scored last night. Goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo also came to the Flash through the draft.

The recent waiving of Colombian international Lady Andrade spoke volumes. Her style — which frustrated the Americans in last summer’s Women’s World Cup — didn’t fit in. They went with players with less star value and more work ethic.

Sky Blue is trying to do something similar but do have players of higher international pedigree. The draft was a good one. It may take time to develop,  but that chemistry needs to be there to translate into success on the field

Leah Galton can play: Yes, it was only 45 minutes but when the newly graduated Hofstra striker came on in the second half, Sky Blue became more dangerous. The British international brought energy and aggressiveness up front. She was able to penetrate off the dribble, make the quick pass and put Sky Blue in good positions on the field.

She set up Sky Blue’s first goal with a smart square pass to Kelley O’Hara, who hit a swerver over D’Angelo.

Galton replaced Tasha Kai who simply has not been getting the touches on the ball for Sky Blue. On top of that, Kai played with her left hand heavily wrapped to protect a finger injury suffered in training during the week.

If Galton can team with fellow rookie Raquel Rodriguez, the Costa Rican international who sat out of the game with a hip flexor, Sky Blue can immediately become more dangerous and supply more of a threat other than O’Hara making runs.

What’s Next: The Sky Blue travels to Chicago to face the Red Stars next Sunday in a Memorial Day weekend matchup. After a week off for international play, Sky Blue returns home on June 11 to host FC Kansas City.

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