Katie Johnson scored both of Sky Blue FC’s goals. (Jeffrey Auger Photo)
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Only seconds away from its first win of the National Women’s Soccer League, Sky Blue FC watched two points fly out of the window Saturday night.
Amy Rodriguez scored four minutes into stoppage time — the final play of the game — to lift Utah Royals FC to a 2-2 draw with Sky Blue FC at Yurcak Field.
After the fourth official signaled three minutes of added time, the visitors wound up with an extra minute to do some damage. Christen Press laid off a ball for Rodriguez, who scored and broke Sky Blue’s hearts.
In other words, Sky Blue FC (0-14-5, 5 points) is still looking for its first victory while Utah (29) moved to 7-7-8.
“This was a really good performance from the opening minute of the game,” Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy said. “We played tight defensively, and we were smart in our attacks. We also did a good job of not allowing them to counter much in transition. I am so proud of the way our team played because they never stopped working at any moment in the game. They deserved more out of this performance.”
Sky Blue FC opened the scoring in the 14th minute, finding success on a series that started with Madison Tiernan sending the ball upfield to Imani Dorsey on the left flank. Dorsey delivered a pass to Raquel Rodriguez on top of the 18. Rodriguez played Carli Lloyd before taking back possession and touching forward to Katie Johnson, who slid into a strike that blew past Utah goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart for the first of her two goals.
The lead was nearly extended to 2-0 in the 25th minute after Johnson sent a hard roller to Savannah McCaskill, who flicked a crafty back heel over a defender that found Lloyd as she raced into the penalty area. Lloyd fired a shot that was just wide of the far post.
In the 48th minute, Sky Blue FC pushed its advantage to 2-0. The play started on the back line when Domi Richardson powered a ball upfield to Johnson, who sped under it and turned towards the center of the park. She looked to send a through-ball to an overlapping Imani Dorsey, but it was deflected by a defender. Johnson left no doubt on her following touch, lofting a ball into the left upper 90 that essentially froze Barnhart for a 2-0 lead.
With Sky Blue FC in control of the momentum, the hosts suffered a setback in the 55th minute when the match was halted after a lightning strike occurred near the stadium.
Shortly after action resumed, Utah sliced the lead 58th minute. Taylor Lytle received a ball on the end line and cut it inside for Rodriguez, who hit a shot towards the frame. Her strike then took a deflection that resulted in an own goal.
Sky Blue FC nearly put this one out of reach in the 72nd minute. Raquel Rodriguez intercepted a pass in the midfield that Sarah Killion quickly collected before hooking up Lloyd, who then danced through a pair of defenders before perfectly lofting distribution up the right flank for McKenzie Meehan. With Rodriguez racing down her lane outside the 18, Meehan fed the Costa Rica international a hard roller that she blasted on target, but goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart made a diving save of the attempt.