Sky Blue FC midfielder Elizabeth Eddy (left) and Utah Royals FC forward Mallory Weber battle for the ball. (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
HERRIMAN, Utah — Sky Blue FC’s scoring worries continued in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, dropping a 1-0 decision to Utah Royals FC at Zions Bank Stadium on Saturday.
It was the second consecutive shutout for the New Jersey side, which played OL Reign to a scoreless draw in its opener earlier this week.
Forward Amy Rodriguez scored the lone goal behind to a pin-point assist from midfielder Vero Boquete in the 41st minute. The Utah win marked the first for head coach Craig Harrington as head coach of the National Women’s Soccer League team.
“I’m delighted for the group,” Harrington said. “I think they earned it and I think the best team won today. From the last game I think we improved and that’s all that we’re asking for from this group. Second, I think there were several outstanding individual performances, but the hot take is right now that we won the game and we kept a clean sheet. Now people are talking about playing three at the back.”
Utah outshot Sky Blue, 14-3, and placed four shots on target, compared to its opponents’ none.
When Sky Blue needed to push forward in the final 10 minutes, it had problems getting out of its own end of the field as Utah continued to press. In fact, the Royals came closer to scoring an insurance tally than the Jersey team had to equalizing.
The game was the first NWSL appearance and start for Sky Blue defender Kaleigh Riehl, whose three clearances and four interceptions helped shut down Utah. Midfielder Nicole Baxter also made her NWSL debut when she entered the match in the 85th minute. Sky Blue rookie forward Evelyne Viens also earned her first pro start.
Sheridan made the save of the match for her stop in the 22nd minute off a shot to her near post. Sarah Woldmoe was named Sky Blue woman of the match for her strong performance in the midfield.
Sky Blue sits in a three-way tie for sixth place. The team will face the Houston Dash Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.