Last-place Sky Blue FC is 0-8-1. (Photo by Jeffrey Auger)
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Sky Blue FC’s venture into National Women’s Soccer League hell continued Saturday night as it conceded an 85th-minute own goal that led to a 2-1 defeat to Utah Royals FC at Yurcak Field.
On the game-winner a ball was sent upfield for Gunnhildur Jonsdottir as she delivered a feed for Katie Stengel on the near post. Sky Blue FC defender Mandy Freeman tried to clear the ball, but she inadvertently saw her attempt redirected into the net for an own goal.
The result left Sky Blue FC (one point) with a 0-8-1 while Utah (14) improved to 3-2-5.
“It took a little while to break down the game, but I felt that we really found our rhythm in the second half,” Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy said. “We made some changes to our formation during halftime to get on the front foot and put players in more positive areas. Following those adjustments, we were able to create some good opportunities, but we have to do a better job of closing more of our chances.”
Utah opened the scoring in the third minute. Jonsdottir picked off a ball in the midfield before playing a give-and-go with Taylor Lytle. Jonsdottir carried possession down the left flank and centered a cross into the box, where Diana Matheson slid into a one-timer that put the visitors on top, 1-0.
In the 10th minute, Sky Blue FC equalized. After Janine Beckie was played in the midfield, she sprung Amanda Frisbie down the left flank. The Sky Blue FC defender delivered a perfectly weighted ball for Katie Johnson into the box, where she hit a hard roller to Shea Groom as she entered the area. Groom fought through two defenders before firing a left-footed strike past the outstretched arms of Nicole Barnhart, making the game level at 1-1.
Sky Blue FC nearly found a go-ahead tally in the 55th minute, as Rebekah Stott played Johnson on top of the 18. The Mexico international back-heeled a ball for Madison Tiernan, who took one touch before hammering a shot just high of the crossbar.
The next opportunity for Sky Blue FC came in the 64th minute when Beckie sent a corner into the area that rolled to Stott on the far side. The New Zealand international chipped a feed towards the back post for Groom, whose strike was cleared away by a defender.
Sky Blue FC will host the Washington Spirit for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday at Yurcak Field.