Sky Blue FC entered its clash against the Western New York Flash last weekend with defensive reinforcements in United States women’s national team members Kelley O’Hara and captain Christie Rampone. However, it was the pair’s contributions on the offensive end that were most vital with O’Hara notching a pair of assists while Rampone scored the equalizer in a wild and open 3-3 draw at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, N.Y.
Australian forward Michelle Heyman also got on the scoreboard in her Flash debut.
The tie may not have helped Sky Blue (2-6-5, 11 points) in the NWSL standings where it sits at the bottom of the table, but it did see the New Jersey club overcome another serious hump as they scored multiple goals in a game for the first time this season.
“I really liked the resiliency we showed today, particularly in the second half,” said Sky Blue head coach Jim Gabarra. “Both teams had some mental breakdowns on the goals, but I was proud of the way we played overall.”
One of those mental breakdowns occurred in just the second minute of play. After earning a corner kick from a Heyman shot, Western New York’s (4-5-3, 15 points) ensuing cross managed to bounce around inside Sky Blue’s penalty area before forward Jasmyne Spencer pounced on the loose ball for the 1-0 lead.
That lead seemed to be solidified in the 25th minute when Flash defender Jaelene Hinkle split through Sky Blue’s defense and sent a shot to the near post that managed to sneak through the legs of Rampone and the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Brittany Cameron.
Sky Blue pulled one back in the 39th minute when O’Hara found out-of-form forward Nadia Nadim with a chipped ball in behind the Flash’s defense for the easy finish.
But the momentum appeared short lived when, five minutes after halftime, a curling shot from midfielder Sam Mewis was tipped off the cross bar by Cameron only for the rebound to be tucked away by an unmarked Heyman.
Desperate for goals, O’Hara pushed forward into a midfield role which paid immediate dividends when she found midfielder Katy Freels open inside the 18-yard-box to make it 3-2 in the 60th minute. Two minutes later, it was Freels who turned provider when her corner kick sneaked past Western New York’s defense and found Rampone wide open at the back post for the tap-in finish completing the unlikely comeback with nearly 30 minutes to go.
“Scoring three goals in your own backyard should be enough to take three points away,” said Flash head coach Aaran Lines.“Disappointing that we conceded those three goals.”
As for Gabarra, the end result left mixed emotions.
“We put them under a lot of pressure and created a lot of chances in both halves,” Gabarra said. “It is a little disappointing to not come away with the three points, but scoring three goals on the road is very gratifying.”
Sky Blue FC (2-6-5, 11pts) vs. Western New York Flash (4-5-3, 15pts)
July 19, 2015 – Sahlen’s Stadium (Rochester, N.Y.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Sky Blue FC 1 2 3
Western New York Flash 2 1 3
WNYF: Jasmyne Spencer, 2’
WNYF: Jaelene Hinkle, 25’
SBFC: Nadia Nadim (Kelley O’Hara), 39’
WNYF: Michelle Heyman, 50’
SBFC: Katy Freels (Kelley O’Hara), 60’
SBFC: Christie Rampone (Katy Freels), 62’
SBFC: Taylor Lytle (caution) 94’
SBFC: Brittany Cameron, Christie Rampone (C), Lindsi Cutshall (Cami Levin, 41’), Caitlin Foord, Kelley O’Hara (Shawna Gordon, 91’), Hayley Haagsma, Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle, Katy Freels, Sam Kerr, Nadia Nadim (Jonelle Filigno, 89’)
WNYF: Chantel Jones, Whitney Engen, Brittany Taylor (C), Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Hinkle, Ashley Nick (Elizabeth Eddy, 64’), Becky Edwards, Sam Mewis, Jasmyne Spencer, Michelle Heyman (Kristen Hamilton, 80’), Lynn Williams