Sky Blue FC opened its 2016 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) home schedule on Sunday night, falling 2-1 to the Washington Spirit at Yurcak Field. Ali Krieger and Diana Matheson tallied goals for Washington, while Maya Hayes scored her first goal of the season for Sky Blue FC.
“It is disappointing that we were unable to open up our home schedule with a better performance and a result,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We did not give a good representation of what we are capable of doing tonight. We definitely had our moments in the game where we showed our level of play, but we were not consistent enough in terms of our decisions on the ball, and our decisions off the ball.”
After some good back-and-forth action throughout the opening half, Sky Blue FC eventually faced its first deficit of the season in the 40th minute. On the scoring play for the visiting Spirit, midfielder Tori Huster dealt a ball for a racing Krieger on the right flank. The Washington defender quickly collected before seeing space in front of her, deciding to drive a shot towards the frame. Her ensuing attempt sailed over the Sky Blue FC back line and found itself perfectly slotted into the left upper 90, giving the road side a 1-0 advantage.
The Spirit was able to extend its lead to 2-0 in the 56th minute. On the play, Washington striker Crystal Dunn gathered and took a couple steps with the ball before sending a hard roller to Matheson on the left side of the penalty area. As Sky Blue FC netminder Caroline Casey stepped out to close the gap, Matheson was able to place a ball under her to give her team a two-goal edge.
Sky Blue FC got on the board in the 66th minute to bring it back to a one-tally differential, scoring on a series that was started in the middle of the field by Costa Rican international Raquel Rodriguez. The crafty midfielder sent distribution to Taylor Lytle, who was able to split the entire Washington back line. After a dummy play on the ball by forward Tasha Kai, Hayes was able to one-touch the feed underneath a diving Stephanie Labbe to make it a 2-1 contest.
Over the final 25 minutes of this match, Sky Blue FC remained on the attack and created numerous opportunities on the offensive end of the field. However, Labbe was able to rise to the occasion for the Spirit to preserve the eventual 2-1 result.