Raquel Rodriguez tallied Sky Blue FC’s first goal. (Photo courtesy of Sky Blue FC)
CHICAGO – It took Sky Blue FC virtually the entire 2018 National Women’s Soccer League season to secure its first and only win of the year.
This time, it took the team “only” 10 games to accomplish that feat.
Raquel Rodriguez and Jen Hoy each scored en route to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Red Stars Saturday night.
The New Jersey side improved to 1-7-2 and five points.
Sky Blue FC started off pressing hard on the Chicago backline. The first chance came in the third minute as Elizabeth Eddy slipped a ball into Paige Monaghan making a run on the right side of the box. Monaghan beat defender Katie Naughton but ripped er shot just wide of the right post.
Chicago had its first chance on goal in the eighth minute when midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo bumped Eddy off the ball and sent a pass to forward Yuki Nagasato on the right side. Nagasato’ shot went curling wide of the far-left post.
Sky Blue’s backline held strong in the 19th minute as forward Savannah McCaskill sent in a cross from the left side to Nagasato, who headed it down to DiBernardo. The shot, however, was blocked by Gina Lewandowski. Nagasato collected and send it to defender Arin Wright, who fired a shot wide from the top of the box.
Rodriguez found the net in the 22nd minute off a build-up started by Sabrina Flores. Flores sent a long ball down the field to Monaghan, who did a quick one-two pass with Eddy. After Monaghan received the ball, she slipped it in Rodriguez, who was running in space. The Costa Rican interantional slotted it to the far right post for a 1-0 lead.
Chicago attempted to tie the game with a chance by DiBernardo in the 33rd minute. DiBernardo sent a pass into Nagasato, who was open on the right flank. She cut inside to try and shake Caprice Dydasco off the ball before passing to Sam Kerr at the top of the box. Kerr quickly dropped the back to DiBernardo, who sent her shot over the crossbar.
The second half saw Chicago find more chances on net. Kerr was quiet up until the 54th minute when she snuck in behind the backline and send a header into the goal but was called offside.
Monaghan almost doubled the lead in stoppage time as she found herself one-on-one with Wright. Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan sent a goal kick down the field, that Eddy was able to flick back and find the feat of Monaghan. Running full force at goal, Monaghan cut back to her right foot and loaded up a shot that ended up blocked by Wright and cleared out.
Sheridan made several bit saves during a 10-minute span to keep Sky Blue afloat.
In the 58th minute, Chicago took a corner kick that was punched out by Sheridan but headed back into the box and bounced to the feet of Kerr. Sheridan made a kick save on Kerr’s point-blank shot.
In the 66th minute DiBernardo sent in a long-range pass to forward Katie Johnson on the right flank. She who cut it back into the middle and sent it to midfielder Michele Vasconcelos. Sheridan came off her line to make another kick save. A minute later, Wright placed in a ball from the left side heading towards Kerr, but Sheridan punched it out of danger.
Called to action again in the 72nd minute, Sheridan jumped and grabbed a ball that was flicked up at goal by Johnson but didn’t have enough pace behind it, allowing for an easy save. In the 75th minute, Johnson was able to play in Nagasato behind the backline but Sheridan came off her line and kicked it away. But it was only as far as midfielder Maria Sanchez, who eyed up an open goal. As Sanchez sent in a low shot it, Sheridan made a kick save as she backtracked to goal.
Sky Blue went up 2-0 in the 81st minute as Hoy scored. Sheridan sent a goal kick to the middle of the field that Julie James Doyle flicked back past the defense to Hoy. As she brought the ball into the middle of the box, Hoy’s initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper Emily Boyd, but the deflection fell back to her feet and she put home the rebound.
A quick response from Chicago put them back into the game as a goal from midfielder Danielle Colaprico came in the 82nd minute. A clearance from a Chicago free kick was sent back to Colaprico at the top of the box. She floated in a half volley over the diving Sheridan to put the Red Stars on the board.
The last solid chance for the Red Stars came in the 84th minute as Johnson sent in a cross to the head of Kerr, heading it down and almost poking it into goal but the defensive effort of Flores and Lewandowksi kept the ball out the back of the net.
Sky Blue will be back at home on Friday, July 12 at Yurcak Field against Utah Royals FC at 7:30 p.m.