Megan Rapinoe scored the lone goal of the match. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
PISCATAWAY, N.J — U.S. international Megan Rapinoe tallied in the seventh minute to lift Seattle Reign FC to a 1-0 victory over Sky Blue FC on a rainy, windy Sunday at Yurcak Field.
Rapinoe converted a penalty kick after Erica Skroski was called for a handball in the penalty area in Sky Blue FC’s home opener.
The National Women’s Soccer League loss dropped the Jersey side to 0-2-0 and last place among the nine-team league while second-place Seattle (six points) improved to 2-0-0.
“For both teams, the conditions from the wind and the rain made it very difficult for the style of soccer we like to play. We both like to possess, and it was not easy to do that tonight,” Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy said. “Seattle is a very good team that is extremely well-coached, so to limit their chances the way we did in this weather is definitely a positive takeaway from the match. What we have to do is be a little more efficient as a team in the final third to create better opportunities. That is the small detail that we are missing right now.”
Both teams continued to battle through the harsh conditions. Sky Blue FC nearly found its equalizer just before halftime. In the second minute of stoppage time, Savannah McCaskill fed a through-ball into the box that eventually arrived at the feet of Shea Groom, who then sent it across the area. McCaskill looked to run the ball down, but it was just beyond her reach.
Sky Blue FC nearly hit an equalizer in the 73rd minute, as McCaskill gained possession in the midfield and began racing down the center of the park. She then delivered a ball to Groom as she entered the right side of the box, where Groom did a stepover before firing a shot that forced a diving save from Seattle goalkeeper Michelle Betos.
In the 85th minute, Reign FC was given a second penalty attempt after Kiersten Dallstream played a ball for Jodie Taylor in the box, where the England international was taken down before it arrived at her feet.
Taylor, who struck her penalty kick to her right side. Playing the kick perfectly was Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who stretched-out to her left and made the diving save. The ball then rebounded right to the feet of Dallstream, who hammered a shot that Sheridan kick-saved to keep out of the net.
Sky Blue FC hits the road next weekend to play the Chicago Red Stars Saturday. The team will return to Yurcak Field Saturday, May 5, hosting the Houston Dash for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
6 SEA Megan Rapinoe (Penalty Kick)
NJ: Sheridan, Freeman, Stott, Skroski, Gibbons (Tiernan-82), Rodriguez (Johnson-64), Killion, Lloyd, McCaskill, Beckie, Groom (Leon-89)
Subs not used: Casey, Meehan, Hoy
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
SEA: Betos, Westphal, Barnes, Oyster, Nielsen, Long, Yanez (McNabb-90), Fishlock, Rapinoe (Dallstream-56), Taylor, Spencer (Andrews-79)
Subs Not Used: Addo, Averbuch, Gay
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Stats Summary: NJ / SEA
Shots: 3 / 8
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 6 / 5
Fouls: 14 / 8
Offside: 1 / 3
50 NJ Savannah McCaskill (Yellow Card)
82 SEA Kiersten Dallstream (Yellow Card)
Referee: Marco Vega
Assistant Referee 1: Ian McKay
Assistant Referee 2: Maggie Short
Fourth Official: Thomas Snyder
Woman of the Match: Kailen Sheridan