Raquel Rodriguez converted her penalty in the 29th minute. (Jefrrey Auger Photo)

MANALAPAN, N.J. — Midfielder Raquel Rodriguez converted a penalty kick in the 29th minute to boost Sky Blue FC to a 1-0 victory over West Virginia University at Sportika Sports Saturday.

“West Virginia was a really good team for us to meet. They were well organized, and they are extremely physical,” Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy said. “Going against a team that switches from high-press to low-press and can play out of the back or go direct gives us a good picture of how an NWSL team will play.”

The National Women’s Soccer League side almost scored in the seventh minuteas McKenzie Meehan and Katie Johnson worked a give-and-go that resulted in a Meehan blast going just high of the crossbar. Shea Groom was also a constant creator for the hosts’ attack, and she nearly set up a goal in the 25th minute after shaking a defender and delivering a ball across the mouth of the frame as Jen Hoy saw her header go just wide of the near post.

The deadlock was broken in the 29th minute when Meehan sent a ball into the area for Rodriguez, who was taken down inside the box for a penalty kick. The Costa Rican international slotted home the penalty.

An addition to the Sky Blue FC lineup was Brazil international Thaisa Moreno, who maintained an active presence in the middle of the field. She had a particularly strong connection with Rodriguez, as the duo orchestrated some dangerous runs that nearly saw Sky Blue FC stretch its lead before halftime.

Sky Blue FC continued to threaten in the second half, but a solid performance by goalkeeper netminder Rylee Foster kept the score line at 1-0.

Goalkeeper Caroline Casey, who played the full 90 minutes, recorded the clean sheet.

“We did a good job today of finding the seams, and there were a bunch of times that we went into the attack with numbers,” Reddy said. “Now, we just need to put the final pieces together on making the right decisions and making the proper run at the proper time. We did well defensively, both in our high-press and low-press, and I was happy overall with our performance.”

Sky Blue FC will conclude its preseason schedule when it welcomes St. John’s University into Sportika Sports for a 2 p.m. kickoff Sunday, March 18. All Sky Blue FC preseason matches are open to the public. A dmission to attend is free.

Scoring Summary:

29′ — NJ Raquel Rodriguez (Penalty Kick)


Starting XI: Casey, Flores, Fiebernitz, Freeman, Gibbons, Thaisa, Meehan, Rodriguez, Hoy, Johnson, Groom

Substitutes: Gunion, Mills, Simon, Conheeney, Skroski, Benintente, Richardson, Pierre-Louis, Palacios, Abam
Head Coach: Denise Reddy

Misconduct Summary: