Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan backstopped Sky Blue to its scoreless draw against North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Sky Blue FC)
CARY, N.C. – You might say that Sky Blue FC weathered the storm against the North Carolina Courage Saturday night.
Despite being outshot 28-7, the New Jersey club managed to play the defending National Women’s Soccer League champions to a scoreless draw at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The game was halted in the 53rd minute for a 90-minute weather delay.
Both teams remained scoreless despite several chances. North Carolina, missing four players who were called into U.S. training camp for the Women’s World Cup, is 2-0-2, while Sky Blue 0-2-2.
“We bombarded Sky Blue for 25 minutes after the rain out,” Courage head coach Paul Riley said. “I thought during that time we would get a goal, but the ball never really bounced our way at that end of the field. That being said, I was happy with our performance overall.”
The first half of the match started out with balls flying from both flanks. Outside defenders, Merritt Mathias and Jaelene Hinkle, played in several crosses, creating numerous chances in and around the box.
Lynn Williams had a solid strike that hit the post in the 19th minute. Debinha turned around and hit the same post in the 33rd minute. The Courage took 16 shots in the first half compared to Sky Blue’s four.
Just a short seven minutes and 50 seconds into the second half, lightning struck, and the game entered a weather delay. The game resumed at 9:45 p.m.
Rookie Leah Pruitt entered the game as a substitution when the game restarted and immediately made an impact, firing a dangerous shot in the 57th minute. One minute later Debinha sent another shot flying that just barely missed the net.
Stephanie Labbé kept the score even in the 65th minute with a diving save. Savannah McCaskill of Sky Blue FC volleyed the ball, but the Canadian goalkeeper was quick to deny her.
In the 79th minute, Williams used her speed to catch up to Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. The two met at the ball at the same time and the ball popped loose. Williams got to the ball but was not able to send a shot into an open net.
Sky Blue got a fast break in the 89th minute that would have resulted in a goal, but Mathias cleared it off the goal line. After a long, rain filled night, the score remained 0-0 at the final whistle.
“It took us a little bit in the first half to get into the rhythm of the game and we did okay towards the end of it trying to limit their transition, but we wanted to go more into transition and have a little longer attacks,” Sky Blue head coach Denise Reddy said. “I wish we didn’t have the break, but I think we came out the second half organized and had a few opportunities to get a result as well.”