There’s no stopping Sam Kerr, who completed her incredible four-goal performance with the winner four minutes into stoppage time. (Jeffrey Auger Photo)
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Sam Kerr celebrated her inclusion on the short list for the FIFA women’s player of the year in the best way possible Saturday.
The Australian international scored a league-record four goals, including the game-winner deep into stoppage time to lift Sky Blue FC to a stunning 5-4 comeback triumph over Seattle Reign FC in a National Women’s Soccer League game at Yurcak Field.
The win climaxed a difficult week for the New Jersey side as head coach Christy Holly stepped down as head coach and that was followed by the fact that team captain and former U.S. international Christie Pearce said that injuries forced her to the sidelines for the rest of the season.
#Highlights: Samantha Kerr led an improbable rally by Sky Blue FC to defeat Seattle Reign FC 5-4 on Sat. night. #NJvSEA
Posted by National Women's Soccer League on 19 ऑगस्ट 2017
For the second time in less than a month, these two teams played to a 5-4 result, with Seattle prevailing July 22.
Sky Blue FC scored the equalizer when Domi Richardson sent a ball into the penalty that Kerr collected before playing her back. Richardson one-timed a cross towards the top of the six-yard box, where Hayes fought through to put a header on frame that knotted the game up again, 4-4.
The hosts incredibly found itself with an opportunity to reclaim the lead in the 93rd minute when a handball infraction inside the box led to a penalty kick. Kerr, however, rifled a shot off the crossbar.
Undeterred, Kerr struck for her fourth goal of the game four minutes into injury time for one of the most amazing individual performances in women’s professional in the United States if not the world.
Taylor Lytle sent a corner kick in the 94th minute toward the front of the goal mouth. Kerr fought off several defenders and headed the ball past Kopmeyer.
Those four goals propelled Kerr to the league scoring lead with 15 goals. She also has three assists.
“This comeback showed huge character,” Kerr told reporters. “We can’t keep conceding lots of goals like we have been, but I know we will continue to grow. I am really proud of my teammates because we fought through and found a way to win the game.”
Needless to say, Kerr’s achievement astounded her teammates.
Sky Blue FC dug a big hole for itself as Seattle grabbed a 3-0 lead behind Katie Johnson (third minute), Jessica Fishlock (18th minute) and Nahomi Kawasumi (two minutes into first-half added time). Kiersten Dallstream tallied what looked like to be the game-winner in the 85th minute.
Then Kerr took it up a notch or two or three for the hosts as she tallied her first in teh 48th minute.
Nikki Stanton played Kayla Mills into space on the right wing. Mills struck the ball towards the far post, where Erica Skroski headed it back towards the center of the box. After that ball deflected off a defender, Kerr connected.
Kerr and company were far from finished.
In the 68th minute Daphne Corboz sent a long ball over the top that landed at the feet of Kerr as she raced past a Reign FC defender before drilling a shot past goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer to narrow the score to 3-2.
Sky Blue FC knotted things up 71st minute. A looping ball down the left flank by Sarah Killion found Kerr. After beating a defender, Kerr took on three players and rifled a shot that bent around those players for a 3-3 deadloc and Kerr’s second hat-trick of the season.
The visitors retook the lead in the 85th minute as Dallstream collected a Rumi Utsugi shot that was saved by Katie Sheridan and put away the go-ahead goal at 4-3.
3 SEA Katie Johnson (Christine Nairn)
18 SEA Jessica Fishlock
45+2 SEA Nahomi Kawasumi (Christine Nairn)
48 NJ Sam Kerr
68 NJ Sam Kerr (Daphne Corboz)
71 NJ Sam Kerr (Sarah Killion)
90+1 Maya Hayes (Domi Richardson)
90+4 Sam Kerr (Taylor Lytle)
NJ: Sheridan, Skroski, Freeman, Richardson, Mills (Meehan-86), Lytle, Stanton, Rodriguez (Killion-8), Corboz, Kerr, Tiernan (Hayes-72)
Subs not used: Casey, Kai, O’Hara
Game Day Coach: David Hodgson
SEA: Kopmeyer, Nairn (Elston-62), Mathias, Fishlock, Stott, Pickett, Yanez (Dallstream), McNabb, Utsugi, Johnson (Barnes-83), Kawasumi
Subs Not Used: Reed, Madalyn Schiffel, Crummer, Corsie
Head Coach: Laura Harvey
Stats Summary: NJ / SEA
Shots: 23 / 10
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 9 / 7
Fouls: 7 / 8
Offside: 1 / 3
81 NJ Maya Hayes (Yellow)
Referee: Christopher Spivey
Assistant Referee 1: Jeremy Weed
Assistant Referee 2: Amilcar Sicaju
Fourth Official: Henrik Karlsson
Woman of the Match: Sam Kerr