Savannah McCaskill tallied the equalizer in the 78th minute. (Phil Auger Photo)

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – It looked like Sky Blue FC was going to endure a long night against the Chicago Red Stars when the hosts scored in the opening minute.

The New Jersey side, however, managed to keep Chicago off the scoreboard and scored a late equalizer on Savannah McCaskill’s first professional goal in a 1-1 draw before 2,413 at Toyota Stadium.

(0-2-1, 1 point) earned its first point of the National Women’s Soccer League season while the Red Stars (8 points) moved to 2-1-2.

“We did pretty well with our pressure towards the beginning of the game, and we also created some good opportunities,” Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy said. “After the first 15 minutes or so, it felt like Chicago was able to gain control over the remainder of the first half. They were able to spread us out a bit and made us do a lot of unnecessary running defensively.”

A throw-in to Alyssa Mautz started Chicago’s lone goal. She touched the ball for Sofia Huerta outside of the 18 and lofted a drifting shot that sailed over the head of goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.

In the 78th minute, Katie Johnson gathered possession and lofted a ball to McCaskill, who was on top of the left side of the area. McCaskill struck a hard curling shot on frame that slipped under keeper Alyssa Naeher.

When we came out in the second half, we definitely started to show more of who we are. We were on the front foot more, and we were able to put better pressure on the ball. Coming from behind a goal on the road and finding a way to get a point is definitely a positive takeaway that we will build upon as we head into training next week.”

In the 13th minute, Sky Blue FC appeared to have tied it up as McCaskill collected deep on her end of the pitch before sending a ball up the right flank for a racing Shea Groom. The forward sped past a defender as she approached the 18 and two defenders collapsed on her. She cut a ball to the far side of the area, where Janine Beckie shot it past Naeher. The play was called offside.

Sky Blue FC almost struck in 62nd minute for the equalzier. Off a throw-in, Beckie played an overlapping Groom into the penalty area as she sent a ball to the center of the box. After Raquel Rodriguez was unable to stretch for it, Carli Lloyd put a nice touch on the ball that gave her enough space to fire on frame, but Naeher deflected her attempt out of play.

Another near-tying situation occurred in the 73rd minute on a Sky Blue FC corner kick. Sarah Killion sent the ball to the far side, where Lloyd put a header on the service that whistled just beyond the post.

“When we came out in the second half, we definitely started to show more of who we are. We were on the front foot more, and we were able to put better pressure on the ball,” Reddy said. “Coming from behind a goal on the road and finding a way to get a point is definitely a positive takeaway that we will build upon as we head into training next week.”

Former Sky Blue FC standout Sam Kerr, who helped Australia clinch a berth in the 2019 Women’s World Cup for the third consecutive time this week, did not play for the Red Stars.

Sky Blue FC will return home to Yurcak Field on Saturday, May 5, hosting the Houston Dash for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Scoring Summary:

1 CHI Sofia Huerta (Alyssa Mautz)
78 NJ Savannah McCaskill (Katie Johnson)

Lineups:

NJ: Sheridan, Freeman (Johnson-66), Stott, Skroski, Gibbons, Rodriguez (Meehan-83), Killion, Lloyd, McCaskill (Tiernan-86), Beckie, Groom
Subs not used: Casey, Hoy, Leon, Abam
Head Coach: Denise Reddy

CHI: Naeher, Comeau, Naughton, Gilliland, Gorden, Huerta, Stanton, Colaprico (Kaskie-90), Vasconcelos (Green-83), Nagasato, Mautz
Subs Not Used: Boyd, Yenney
Head Coach: Rory Dames

Stats Summary: CHI / NJ
Shots: 20 / 11
Saves: 3 / 5
Corner Kicks: 4 / 4
Fouls: 3 / 8
Offside: 4 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
N/A

Officials:
Referee: Reyna Fonseca
Assistant Referee 1: Adrienne McDonald
Assistant Referee 2: Gjovalin Bori
Fourth Official: Kyle Hannon

Woman of the Match: Savannah McCaskill