Carli Lloyd and her teammates had plenty to cheer about. (Photo courtesy of Sky Blue FC)
TACOMA, Wash. – U.S. women’s national team standout Carli Lloyd scored in the 77th minute to lead Sky Blue to a 1-0 victory over Reign FC in a National Women’s Soccer League game at Cheney Stadium Saturday night.
Sky Blue FC (19 points) improved to 5-13-4.
Early on, Reign FC pressured high and Sky Blue FC sat back and waiting to counter. The hosts had opportunities in the third and sixth minutes but both shots were sent over the crossbar. Reign FC’s best chance was stopped by defender Estelle Johnson in the eighth minute as midfielder Beverly Yanez’s shot was blocked in the six-yard box.
Sky Blue’s first opportunity came in the 10th minute by Caprice Dydasco. She received a pass on the right flank, cut back inside the 18-yard box past defender Steph Catley and ripped a shot just wide of the right post.
Forward Megan Rapinoe’s speed was nothing Erica Skroski couldn’t handle in the 24th minute. Rapinoe collected a long ball on the left side and went full tilt to goal but just as she fired a shot, Skroski blocked it with a slide.
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan wasn’t tested until the 31st minute as a deflected shot came her way. Reign forward Darian Jenkins sent a cross in that hit off of Imani Dorsey’s leg and sent the ball at goal, but Sheridan collected the deflection.
Sky Blue had some fine ball movement that lead up to an opportunity in the 34th minute. Sarah Killion sent a pass up the middle to Jen Hoy, who played it forward to Paige Monaghan making a run on the left side of the 18-yard box. Monaghan sped past defender Lauren Barnes as her shot went just wide of the left post.
Midfielder Allie Long of Northport, N.Y. had a chance in the 42nd minute but was denied by Sheridan. Minutes later in stoppage time, Sheridan denied Jenkins as she kicked saved a low shot.
In the 52nd minute, Reign almost found itself with a goal. Rapinoe slipped a ball past two defenders to find Bethany Balcer open in the box. Balcer’s shot was saved by Sheridan but spilled to the feet of Yanez, who sent the deflection wide of the post.
Sheridan came up big in the 72nd minute, denying Balcer a goal. Rapinoe sent a throw-in to Balcer, who chased it down and clipped a curling shot towards the upper right-hand corner. Sheridan, tracking the ball, did a diving stretch to tip it over the crossbar.
After a few more minutes of pressure from Reign, Lloyd put Sky Blue on top 1-0 in the 77th minute. Raquel Rodriguez found the open Nahomi Kawasumi running down the left sideline. She threaded a pass through three Reign players to Lloyd. Goalkeeper Casey Murphy came off her line to close down Lloyd, but the well-timed shot hit with the outside of her right foot found its way to the back of the net.
Reign had two more chances from Balcer in the 82nd minute and in stoppage time but both shots traveled over the crossbar.
Sky Blue FC’s final home game of the season will be against the Orlando Pride at Red Bull Arena next Sunday at 11 a.m.