Raquel Rodriguez, in action with the Costa Rican national team, scored the lone goal for Sky Blue in its victory. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
LAKEWOOD, N.J. – In its second preseason match, Sky Blue FC defeated the University of North Carolina, 1-0, at Georgian Court University Saturday.
It was the National Women’s Soccer League side’s second preseason win after last weekend’s 3-1 victory over St. John’s University.
Sky Blue FC midfielder Raquel Rodriguez scored the game-winner, finishing off a Maya Hayes assist in the 16th minute. Goalkeeper Caroline Casey recorded the shutout.
“It was fantastic to get in this game against UNC today,” Sky Blue FC head coach Christy Holly said in a statement. “Under the guidance of Anson Dorrance, they have a very good technical and tactical understanding of the game, and they presented us with a number of challenges. Playing this match serves as great preparation for our NWSL season.”
To keep fresh legs and consistent pressure in the face of Sky Blue FC, UNC used open substitutions throughout this game while Sky Blue FC used a single substitution strategy.
The scoring sequence started after forward Leah Galton raced down the left flank with the ball. Just outside the penalty area, the England international serviced the ball into the box, where Hayes tapped a feed to Rodriguez on top of the 18. The Costa Rica international ripped a shot into the left side netting for the goal.
Sky Blue FC continued to press and created several chances, but goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak denied the hosts’ opportunities.
Leshnak made her best save in the 86th minute after Sky Blue FC midfielder Madison Tiernan was taken down inside the box for a penalty kick. Australian striker Sam Kerr, playing her first match of the preseason, fired a shot that Leshnak made a diving one-handed save.
Due to national team duty, forward Kelley O’Hara (U.S.) and goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan (Canada) were unavailable for the game.
Next up for Sky Blue FC is its preseason finale next Sunday, April 9 at 4 p.m., when the team hosts Penn State at Georgian Court.
Sky Blue FC will play its regular season home opener when it hosts FC Kansas City on Sunday, April 30 at 6 p.m., at Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.
NJ — R. Rodriguez (M Hayes) — 16′
NJ: C.Casey, Kayla Mills, C.Rampone (D.Richardson-69), M.Freeman, E.Skroski (E.Simon-62), S.Killion (C.Atanda-70), R.Rodriguez (N.Stanton-70), D.Corboz (D.Schulmann-69), T.Lytle (M.Tiernan-62), L.Galton (M.Meehan-70), M.Hayes (S.Kerr-55)
Head Coach: Christy Holly