Raquel Rodriguez scores the equalizing goal in the 75th minute. (Jeffrey Auger Photo)
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Raquel Rodriguez connected for the equalizer in the 75th minute and goalkeeper Caroline Casey stood out in her first start of the season to help Sky Blue FC to a 1-1 draw with the first-place North Carolina Courage in National Women’s Soccer League action at Yurcak Field Sunday night.
Casey made six saves for Sky Blue FC (9-11-3, 30 points), earning woman of the match honors against the Courage (15-6-1, 46).
The keeper made some key stops in the early going, including a spectacular save in the 22nd minute. Lynn Williams carried possession down the left flank before cutting inside and delivering a feed to Denise O’Sullivan in the center of the box. O’Sullivan one-timed a hard shot on frame that Casey punched away with a diving save.
In the 27th minute, North Carolina broke the deadlock. Following a goal kick from Casey, Kristen Hamilton picked the ball from the air and headed it onto the feet of a racing Ashley Hatch. Hatch struck a left-footed shot that found the back of the net.
On a free kick opportunity in the 75th minute , Kelley O’Hara sent a ball into the box that was cleared by Sam Mewis. It rolled to the feet of Domi Richardson, who sent it back into the center of the area. North Carolina keeper Katelyn Rowland came off her line in pursuit of the delivery, but Sam Kerr got there first and chested it down for Rodriguez. After the Costa Rica international gained possession, she stuck out her right foot and poked it into the goal for the equalizer.
Casey came up big in the 86th minute. After Williams acquired the ball on the left flank, she ran on goal into a 1 v 1 situation with Casey. As she approached the six-yard box, Williams fired a point-blank shot, but Casey made another save.
Sky Blue FC will meet the Boston Breakers in its regular-season finale Saturday.