Rookie Raquel Rodriguez scored her first professional goal and Hofstra University alum Leah Galton had two assists to lead Sky Blue FC to a 2-1 road win over Washington Spirit at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
“We are delighted with the result, although our performance was a little bit patchy at times,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We got to see two sides of the team tonight. First of all, we showed our ability and decisions on the ball, and we were also able to have more moments where we really dominated possession. In the last 15-20 minutes of the game, it was fantastic to see our team work together as a unit and fight it out until the final whistle.”
The scoring for Sky Blue FC started early. In the 8th minute Galton worked her way down the left flank and sent a hard roller to Rodriguez who beat Washington keeper Stephanie Labbe for the early 1-0 lead. Not only was the goal the first of the Penn State graduate’s professional career, but also marked the first goal allowed at home by the Spirit this season.
The lead was nearly extended to two goals in the 31st minute after Galton served a ball from the left flank that was eventually collected by U.S. international Kelley O’Hara on the opposite side of the offensive end. O’Hara then sent a well-struck cross into the area that found the head of a diving Tasha Kai. However, Labbe was well-positioned and made the save.
In the 63rd minute, Holly brought on Sam Kerr, and the decision immediately paid dividends. Less than a minute into her shift, Galton collected in the midfield and began to speed down the left flank. She looked up and saw Kerr on the far side of the 18, quickly serving her a looping ball. Kerr then positioned herself before striking a diving half volley into the back of the net. The goal was the first of the season for Kerr, who was seeing action for just the second time of her 2016 campaign.
Washington would closed the gap to 2-1 in the 77th minute. Midfielder Estefania Banini played Diana Matheson in front of the goal, where Matheson was able to put a head on the feed to direct it towards the target. Sky Blue FC netminder Caroline Stanley showed good reflexes in getting a hand on the shot, but she was unable to clear it from danger.
“Every one of our players deserves a huge amount of credit,” Holly stated. “Their attitudes towards winning and working together as a team tonight were incredible. This truly is a special group that we have wearing the Sky Blue FC shield for us.”