Sky Blue FC (0-2-2, 2 points) weathered the storm and battled to a 0-0 draw on the road to the North Carolina Courage.
Sky Blue FC started the first few minutes of the match on the defensive side as the Courage put on pressure. With both Courage outside backs sitting high, Sky Blue was able to create a chance in the third minute from a giveaway in the middle. North Carolina Defender Kaleigh Kurtz sent a ball up the middle that was picked off by Caprice Dydasco, who immediately sent it up the field to an open Imani Dorsey on the left flank. Dorsey beat her defender and sent the shot on target, but Stephanie Labbe was able to tip it over the bar.
Sky Blue FC used the early momentum to keep pressure in the middle of the pitch, causing the Courage to turn the ball over a few times before North Carolina was able to push higher. In the 11th minute Paige Monaghan fouled Debinha right outside the box, giving the Courage their first free kick of the night. The Courage attempted to trick Sky Blue with a few fake run ups to the ball before chipping the ball into the box to Kristen Hamilton who sent it out for a goal kick.
In the 17th minute, Dorsey challenged the Courage backline again after Julie James threaded the ball in to her feet. Dorsey collected on the left side and shook off her defender with a cut back to the right for the shot, but Abby Erceg was able to get a body in the way to deflect it out of bounds.
Twenty minutes into the match, North Carolina’s best chance at goal started with a counter attack as Hamilton ran up the middle of the pitch before finding a seam to set up a perfectly timed run by Lynn Williams. As the ball slipped by the Sky Blue backline, Williams collected and ripped a low shot at the left corner but was denied by the post. The Courage continued to test Kailen Sheridan as Williams ripped another shot six minutes later but went right into the hands of Sheridan. Fourteen minutes later, the post denied the Courage a goal again, as a shot from Debinha curved into the left post.
Sky Blue came out recharged in the second half earning a pair of corners in the 49th minute but was unable to capitalize on each opportunity. Minutes later, the game was delayed due to weather.
After an hour and a half weather delay, play resumed in the 53rd minute and both teams came out on the hunt for the game winner. The Courage started out pressing again earning four corner kicks within a four-minute time span. In the 57th minute Leah Pruitt was close to putting North Carolina on the board when she fired off a shot, sliding just wide of the far post.
The fresh legs of Savannah McCaskill switched up the pace for Sky Blue and created a dangerous chance on goal in the 65th minute. A cross sent in by Caprice Dydasco went off the head of Sarah Killion and McCaskill lined it up for a side volley towards the lower right-hand corner but a diving Labbe pushed it away. Immediately a Courage counter-attack set up Hamilton down the pitch, who put a low shot on frame but was saved by the diving Sheridan.
Sky Blue FC had their last chance on goal in the 90th minute as McCaskill was charging at the Courage backline and passed the ball over to Dorsey, who collected and fired a low shot at the far post but was cleared off the line by Mathias.
“It took us a little bit in the first half to get into the rhythm of the game and we did okay towards the end of it trying to limit their transition, but we wanted to go more into transition and have a little longer attacks” said Head Coach Denise Reddy. “I wish we didn’t have the break, but I think we came out the second half organized and had a few opportunities to get a result as well.”
“I’m really proud of our effort, I think we are building each week and we are learning that we can weather the storms and also take it to teams,” said Midfielder Imani Dorsey. “I think we can diversify our attack a little bit more but the chances we are getting on goal are quality and we are really creating opportunities for ourselves. I’m happy for us.“
Sky Blue FC returns home on Saturday, May 11th to face the Washington Spirit at 3 p.m. ET on Champion Women Day. The team travels west to face Reign FC (May 18, 4 p.m. ET) at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, WA. Tickets to all Sky Blue FC home games can be purchased by calling 888-SBFC-TIX or by visiting www.skybluefc.com