Sky Blue FC (0-8-1, 1 point) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday night, suffering a 2-1 loss to Utah Royals FC (3-2-5, 14 points) at Yurcak Field.
“It took a little while to break down the game, but I felt that we really found our rhythm in the second half,” said Denise Reddy, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We made some changes to our formation during halftime to get on the front foot and put players in more positive areas. Following those adjustments, we were able to create some good opportunities, but we have to do a better job of closing more of our chances.”
Utah opened the scoring in the 3rd minute of this contest. On that sequence, Gunnhildur Jonsdottir picked off a ball in the midfield before playing a give-and-go with Taylor Lytle. Jonsdottir then carried possession down the left flank and centered a cross into the Sky Blue FC box, where Diana Matheson slid into a one-timer that put the visitors on top, 1-0.
In the 10th minute, Sky Blue FC were able to respond with an equalizer. After Janine Beckie was played in the midfield, she sprung Amanda Frisbie down the left flank. The Sky Blue FC defender then delivered a perfectly weighted ball for Katie Johnson into the box, where she hit a hard roller to Shea Groom as she entered the area. Groom fought through a pair of defenders before firing a left-footed strike past the outstretched arms of Nicole Barnhart, making the game level at a goal apiece.
Following some back-and-forth play over the remainder of the first half, these two teams headed into the intermission at 1-1.
Sky Blue FC nearly found a go-ahead tally in the 55th minute, as Rebekah Stott played Johnson on top of the 18. The Mexico international then back-heeled a ball for Madison Tiernan, who took one touch before hammering a shot just high of the crossbar.
The next opportunity for Sky Blue FC came in the 64th minute when Beckie sent a corner into the area that eventually rolled to Stott on the far side. The New Zealand international then chipped a feed towards the back post for Groom, whose strike was cleared away by a Utah Royals FC defender.
Eventually, the game-winner came in the 85th minute. On the play, a ball was sent upfield for Jonsdottir, where she delivered a feed for Katie Stengel on the near post. Trying to make a clearance of it was Sky Blue FC defender Mandy Freeman, but she inadvertently saw her attempt redirected into the net for an own goal.
With just minutes remaining, Sky Blue FC fought for another equalizing tally, but it was not meant to be. When the final whistle was blown, a 2-1 result went in favor of Utah Royals FC.
Next up, Sky Blue FC will host the Washington Spirit for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Yurcak Field on Friday, June 8. Tickets for that match are available now online or by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849).
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