Sky Blue FC Top Portland Thorns 1-0
Before a record setting crowd, the Sky Blue FC, behind clutch defense and brilliant goalie play from Brittany Cameron, topped the visiting Portland Thorns 1-0 Saturday night at Yurcak field in Piscataway NJ.
In a match filled with tension and excitement, Cameron kept her team’s slim playoff hopes alive with an incredible pair of saves off of Portland striker Alex Morgan. In the 87th minute of this match, a ball was sent into the right side of the box for Morgan before finally landing at the feet of teammate Christine Sinclair. Cameron then closed onto Sinclair in an attempt to jump on the ball, and she went down in the process. With the call, Portland was awarded a penalty kick opportunity. Sinclair, in obvious pain was carried off the field by medical staff.
“I didn’t think I hit her”, Cameron said after the match ,”I’ll have to check it out. She’s obviously a good friend of mine and there was no intention of doing anything.”
With Sinclair out, Morgan stepped in to take the penalty kick. Following a quick whistle, she fired to her left, but Cameron was somehow able to make an incredible diving save of the attempt. However, the rebound landed right back in front of a wide open Morgan, who struck the deflection dead on goal. As the ball headed towards the end line, Cameron dove in the opposite direction of the first save to again turn Morgan, sending the sellout crowd in huge roar of approval.
“I created the penalty, so the least I could do was help my team out,” Cameron said of the penalty kick. “We wanted to win as a team, and I apologized to my teammates for it after it happened. We discussed it, and then they told me ‘Alright, go fix it now.’ That is what we do. We pump each other up and have trust in each other, from the bench to the players on the field to the coaching staff. That is the amazing part of the game of soccer.”
“This was a really exciting game,” said Jim Gabarra, Sky Blue FC Head Coach. “In the end, there were a lot of goal scoring opportunities, and we were able to overcome some tough situations to get the win. I am really happy and gratified for the team, considering that these are the types of games that went against us in the first half of the season. In front of this crowd, it is very rewarding to show them such a quality product. Hopefully, this can go a long way to creating momentum for us off the field in the future.
Both squads had numerous scoring opportunities, however two successive chances by each side ended with the ball hitting the crossbar but failing to cross the line, thus keeping the score at 1-0.
The home side controlled the pace for much of the first half, with the versatile Kelley O’Hara (whom Gabarra called ‘invaluable to our team” after the game) and dangerous forwards Sam Kerr and Nadia Nadim leading the attack. Sky Blue FC opened the scoring in this contest in the 19th minute on a sequence that started off a left-footed volley from defender Christie Rampone to Nadim, who touched it left for Kerr on the flank.
The Australian forward then cleared some space before striking a feed across the middle for O’Hara. The U.S. National Team forward beat her defender to collect the distribution before setting up a wide open Nadim in front of the frame, and she easily tapped it in for the go-ahead tally. The play was a beautiful piece of teamwork.
Throughout the rest of a tough match that saw several yellow cards issued, both sides continued to create chances and Portland nearly got itself on the scoreboard in the 67th minute when a ball landed at the feet of Sinclair on the left corner of the penalty area. She then stepped into a hard shot that Cameron was able to punch away. The rebound fell back at the feet of Sinclair, who hammered a follow-up shot that ricocheted off the crossbar.
After the match, a disappointed Portland coach Paul Riley said “their three forwards (O’Hara, Nadim and Kerr) were fantastic. If they get into the playoffs, those three could be trouble”. The loss, coupled with the injury to Sinclair were yet another chapter in what has been a disappointing season for the Thorns. Although still alive in the playoff hunt, they left the field looking very dejected and defeated.
With the win, the Sky Blue move into sixth place and now must face the near impossible task of beating the Seattle Reign at their home stadium Saturday night, before returning home to face Kansas City FC on September 2nd.
- Announced attendance was 5,547 fans, which is the largest for the team ever at Yurcak Field and second in franchise history (drew 6,053 fans at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater NJ on August 5th, 2009.
- Sky Blue FC was officially eliminated from playoff contention an hour after the conclusion of this match when FC Kansas City defeated the Boston Breakers, 3-0.
Sky Blue FC vs. Portland Thorns FC
August 22, 2015 – Yurcak Field
Piscataway, New Jersey
19 SBFC N.Nadim (K.O’Hara)
SBFC – Cameron, Rampone, Foord, Cutshall, Levin (Hayes-85), O’Hara, Haagsma, Killion, Freels (Lytle-75), Kerr, Nadim
Substitutes Not Used: Bledsoe, Gordon, Stanton, Grubka, Filigno
PTFC: Angerer, Williamson, Farrelly, Long, Kyle (Sanderson-46), Sinclair, Taylor (Morgan-60), Heath, Zerboni, Polkinghorne, Kleiner (Ayo-78)
Substitutes Not Used: Betos, Shim, Johnson, Van Hollebeke
59 SBFC H.Haagsma (Yellow Card)
68 PTFC M.Zerboni (Yellow Card)
89 SBFC B.Cameron (Yellow Card)