Sky Blue FC (2-3-4, 10 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Sunday night, playing Seattle Reign FC (3-3-3, 12 points) to a scoreless draw at Yurcak Field. Claiming Pine Belt of Lakewood Player of the Match accolades was defender Christie Rampone, who anchored the Sky Blue FC back line in the shutout.
“We had a much better level of consistency throughout this entire performance,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “However, we are not content and will never settle for one point. Day by day and week by week, we continue to play much better, and that is a credit to everyone within our roster. We have developed a great cohesion amongst the group, and we know that we will begin to be rewarded with three points as we progress forward.”
Sky Blue FC nearly opened the scoring in the 12th minute of play, as midfielder Kelly Conheeney played Taylor Lytle into the middle of the penalty area. Lytle then quickly touched before hammering a left-footed shot that ripped off the crossbar. The ball then deflected back to Lytle, who made another attempt on goal. However, Seattle netminder Hope Solo was able to dive onto her strike.
On the opposite side of the field, Seattle saw a similar situation occur in the 17th minute. Midfielder Kim Little moved from the left flank with the ball into the area before finding Jessica Fishlock, who struck a hard shot of her own off the crossbar. The ball bounced dangerously in front of the goal until defender Kristin Grubka played Erica Skroski to clear, cleaning up the potential crisis in the box.
Both teams continued to battle throughout the middle portion of this contest, and Sky Blue FC was nearly able to claim the lead in the 54th minute when Skroski danced through a couple of defenders before playing British international Leah Galton in the left corner of the area. Galton then touched around a defender before rifling a shot on frame that forced Solo to make a diving save. Forward Tasha Kai was there to collect the deflection, but her ensuing shot attempt was high of the mark.
Throughout the second half, Sky Blue FC able to create numerous opportunities on the offensive end, but Seattle battled to remain unscathed. Galton continuously caused havoc for the opposition and played some well delivered crosses from the left flank, but Solo and the Seattle back line were able to do enough to keep Sky Blue FC off the board.
“We are a bit disappointed that we did not come away with the win, to be honest,” Galton remarked. “We played the best tonight that we have so far this season, and it really seems like our team chemistry is getting where we want it to be. Since arriving to the team, I have been figuring out how certain players like to play, and we have been working really hard every day to make sure we are all on the same page. It feels like everything is really starting to come together for us.”
With the result tonight, Sky Blue FC takes the season series from Seattle Reign FC. Sky Blue FC took four points from Seattle on the year after claiming a 2-1 decision over them at Memorial Stadium on NWSL Opening Weekend.