Action from Wednesday night’s game. (Photo courtesy of Sky Blue FC)
HERRIMAN, Utah — Not only did Sky Blue FC score its first goal of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, it recorded its first victory of the competition on Wednesday night, a 2-0 win over the Houston Dash at Zions Bank Stadium.
The triumph propelled the New Jersey side from sixth to second place in the standings. Sky Blue (1-1-1, 4 points) had been blanked in its opening two matches.
Forward Paige Monaghan and midfielder Nahomi Kawasumi scored for the winners, who have given up only one goal in the competition.
“I think it was just a great reward,” head coach Freya Coombe said. “I think it’s an element of relief, but also just how well-deserved it was for the shift the players put in and how well they are playing.”
In the 17th minute, Monaghan got Houston’s defense to force a one-on-one opportunity against goalkeeper Carolyn Jane Campbell. Monaghan was too quick for her marker and scored into an empty net.
Sky Blue did not let up, staying the front foot and continued to create chances. The squad doubled its lead in the 34th minute off a shot from Kawasumi. Campbell came out of her box to clear the ball away from an oncoming Onumonu. Kawasumi, who was waiting on the left side, settled the clearance and chipped the ball into the back of the net from about 40 yards.
“It was just an appropriate reward, especially for Naho,” Coombe said about the midfielder’s performance. “She’s just been so smart and so clever and doesn’t always get the praise that she deserves. I thought that was just a perfect opportunity for her. We’re really happy with her out wide. I thought she did a great job.”
Sky Blue concludes the preliminary round on Monday, July 13, at 10 p.m. ET against two-time National Women’s Soccer League defending champion North Carolina Courage.