Sky Blue FC played the Chicago Red Stars to a dominant 3-1 victory on Saturday, October 10, at Montclair State University Soccer Park at Pittser Field, the home of New York Red Bulls II. The fourth and final Fall Series match was presented digitally for Sky Blue fans courtesy of NJM Insurance Group.
The game started very back-and-forth, with both teams trying to find their footing early. Sky Blue’s first clear chance came in the 11th minute when forward Ifeoma Onumonu earned a free-kick just outside the box. Midfielder Domi Richardson stepped up to take the kick, but she curled it just over the bar.
Sky Blue was back on the attack in the 25th minute when defender Erica Skroski found Midge Purce running free on the right sideline. Purce played the ball across the goal and past the Chicago defenders to the feet of forward Paige Monaghan. The forward, who was waiting in front of the goal, tapped in the ball to put Sky Blue up 1-0.
Just a few minutes later, Chicago was back in the attack looking for the equalizer. Forward Kealia Watt approached the goal quickly from the right side of the box. Sky Blue defender Imani Dorsey made a crucial tackle and knocked the ball over the end line and away from danger.
Sky Blue doubled their lead in the 35th minute when midfielder Sarah Woldmoe played a through ball to Monaghan on the left sideline. Monaghan then played the ball first-time across the box to Onumonu, who settled the ball then touched it past Naeher for her third goal of the Series.
Sky Blue’s dynamic offensive trio was back for more in the second minute of stoppage time. Purce found space on the right sideline and played a ball across the box to Monaghan near the far-left corner of the six. Monaghan then headed the ball into the back of the net to put Sky Blue up 3-0 over Chicago heading into halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, the Red Stars came out looking for a comeback. In the 50th minute, defender Casey Short played a cross towards Morgan Gautrat in the center of the box. The Chicago midfielder then slid onto the ball, but her shot went right to Kailen Sheridan.
Just five minutes later, Chicago was back in the attack when a cross was played in from the right sideline towards Arin Wright at the near post. Sheridan came off her line to punch the ball away, right before it could connect with the Chicago midfielder.
In the 62nd minute, Sky Blue was back on the other end, looking to add to their lead. Onumonu played the ball to Purce near the right-center of the box. Purce then ripped a shot towards goal, but it went over the bar.
Just ten minutes later, Onumonu pushed for more as she drove through the midfield and earned a free-kick just outside the box. Richardson took the kick once more, but her shot went over the bar.
Chicago’s attack kept pushing for a goal late in the game. In the 81st minute, forward Savannah McCaskill broke into the box and ripped a shot towards the upper right corner of the goal, but Sheridan made the quick reaction save to tip the ball over the bar.
The Red Stars’ offensive pressure eventually paid off in the 88th minute, when the team earned a free-kick just outside of the left corner of the box. Defender Tierna Davidson stepped up to take the kick, and she curled the ball towards the far post. The cross connected with Gautrat, who put Chicago on the board with a headed ball to the near post.
Sky Blue almost added to their lead in the second minute of stoppage time when Purce drove into the attacking third and found Onumonu behind the Chicago backline. Onumonu then broke free in the box, but Naeher came out to deflect the ball away before the forward could put a shot on goal. The whistle blew just moments later to secure the 3-1 victory for Sky Blue.
“Going into the game, we knew that Chicago likes to be aggressive with the way that they play,” said Sky Blue Head Coach Freya Coombe after the match. “We knew that we would be able to get in behind at times, and we focused on making sure that we took advantage of that. I could not ask for more in terms of our clinical finishing that we had on those opportunities. The front three performed excellently today.”
Forward Paige Monaghan had a career day scoring two goals and recording one assist for Sky Blue in Saturday’s matchup. Her clinical performance in front of goal and her ability to connect with teammates earned Monaghan the Saker ShopRite Woman of the Match award.
Forwards Midge Purce and Ifeoma Onumonu both played alongside Monaghan to complete the front three’s explosive performance on Saturday. Onumonu scored her third Fall Series goal against Chicago and is now tied for second-most NWSL goals this fall. Meanwhile, Purce recorded two assists and helped create many opportunities on Saturday.
Midfielder Nicole Baxter made her first career NWSL start during the match. Additionally, forward Mikaela Howell made her NWSL debut after coming on for Skroski in the 89th minute.
The victory over the Red Stars concluded Sky Blue’s Fall Series campaign. The team ends the Series with six points through four games, and they currently sit in fourth place in the Fall Series standings. A loss or draw from the NC Courage in their final match would secure a fourth-place finish for Sky Blue.
For more information on Sky Blue FC fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here: