Categorized | Match Reports

Goalless draw ends Sky Blue FC’s season

Posted on 12 September 2010 by lbarker

At midfield, the players from the Boston Breakers and Sky Blue FC shook hands, embraced and likely offered congratulations and condolences. Missing from the group was one player, Tasha Kai. The Sky Blue striker was instead crouching on the field near the sideline, alone, motionless and clearly emotional. 3,810 fans had shown up to Yurcak Field with hopes of giving the home side a proper send off for another magical playoff run. A win – coupled with a Washington Freedom loss or tie – and Sky Blue would be back in the postseason, alive to fight another day, to play one more game at least.

“Win or go home.” For Sky Blue FC it was that simple coming into Saturday night’s match. Of course, the Blue and Orange would also need the result of the Freedom-Beat match happening simultaneously in the nation’s capitol to go their way, but none of that would matter if they couldn’t find a win. For the Breakers, the stakes weren’t quite as high. The Boston team had already secured a postseason berth, this one was simply to help sort out just how close to the top of the table they’d finish. Ninety minutes later, the final match of the season ended the way it started, with a 0-0 scoreline. The result ended Sky Blue FC’s season and left the Breakers to wonder a little longer where they’d finish (2nd, it turned out, as Philadelphia lost to FC Gold Pride later in the evening).

Both teams spent the first ten minutes of the match trying to find their rhythm. In the 10th, Kai collected a through ball and took a shot that Breakers ‘keeper Alyssa Naeher had to come out to block. In the 22nd, Kai had another chance, as Laura Kalmari played a ball over the top of the Boston backline to Kai. The speedy striker beat her defender and Naeher on the dribble and took a shot that rolled across the goalmouth and just wide of the far post.

For much of the rest of the half the back-and-forth continued between the two sides. As the clock closed in on the 45 minute mark the Breakers began to create chances, the best coming in the 39th minute from a Lauren Cheney free kick from 25 yards out that went wide of goal.

After the break, the midfield battles continued. In the 50th minute Fabiana dribbled through the Sky Blue defense but Sky Blue goalkeeper Meghann Burke, making just her third start, made a sliding save to dispossess the Brazilian midfielder.

In the 60th minute Sky Blue FC nearly got on the board as Kai took a close-range shot that was blocked by Naeher. Kalmari collected the rebound, but was unable to get a clean shot off, instead sending the ball wide of frame. A minute later it was Kai again creating trouble for the Boston defense. This time her attempt on a header was deflected out of play.

In the 71st minute, Sky Blue FC Head Coach Rick Stainton made two moves in a last ditch attempt at offense, first switching to three in the back – taking out defender Kendall Fletcher for Rosana – and then replacing Jen Grubb with Yael Averbuch. Stainton said that they were aware on the bench of the Freedom-Beat score, but they didn’t find out until after their own match concluded that Washington had actually won. “It was 0-0 and then obviously at the end of our game we found out that Abby [Wambach] had scored in the 89th so, kinda puts a damper on it, but we fought for it,” said the coach.

In the 82nd minute Kai nearly had a breakaway, but Breakers defender Taryn Hemmings kept pace with the Sky Blue striker and was able to put the ball out of play. Two minutes later the visitors had a chance of their own, from the foot of rookie forward Lauren Cheney, who sent a hard shot from the top of the 18 over the crossbar.

The final minutes were frantic, first with the home side fighting to create one last offensive chance and then with the Breakers peppering Sky Blue with shots. “They threw a lot of numbers at us and so the counter attack for us was on because they only had three players back practically,” said Breakers’ Rookie of the Year candidate Jordan Angeli. “They had thrown everybody else forward, so we were just trying to spring our fresh legs up there with Laura [Del Rio] and trying to get our speedy players in behind them. So, it was definitely wide open at the end.” In the 86th minute Burke made a save on a shot from Cheney inside the six yard box. A minute later Cheney fed a ball to Fabiana, who took a shot that Burke had to tip over the bar. In the 88th minute Sky Blue FC captain Christie Rampone deflected another shot from Cheney out of play. Burke would make one final save on a point-blank Boston shot just before referee Felisha Mariscal blew the whistle that ended the match, and ultimately Sky Blue FC’s season. “It was a good soccer game and I think this is what the season should look like, teams going after it constantly,” commented ageless Boston midfielder Kristine Lilly.

Breakers Head Coach Tony DiCicco was [as] thrilled [as Tony DiCicco can be] at the turnaround his team has experienced this season. “Considering we were in second-to-last at the All-Star Game, for us to finish– not only to get into the playoffs, but to finish second would be a great testament to our second half of the season,” said DiCicco. “It was a good game. We wanted to win it. Obviously, they needed to win it to have any chance of going through.”

Stainton had this to say about the team he took over in mid-July: “We never quit this entire season. We never quit. We worked as hard as we can all the way through it. Through all the ups and downs, through the injuries, through changes, whatever adversity was thrown our way we were fully committed at righting the ship and doing what we could do to make this final push.” And while ultimately his side fell short, the coach was still proud. “We battled. It was a game that we played fairly well for 90 minutes,” said Stainton. “We had some opportunities and unfortunately we didn’t capitalize but we did apply the pressure that we needed and– deflating that we didn’t get the three points that we needed to move forward but overall we had a good season. We have a lot of positives to take out of it.”

And so while the Breakers and their fans rejoiced at a second place finish and bye into the semi-final (and probably at Sky Blue’s misfortune and the great role reversal these two teams experienced – last year it was SBFC who backed into the playoffs on the Breakers’ misfortune), the 3,810 fans there to cheer the home side filed out of Yurcak Field, left with only the memories of a season past, questions about what could have been, and the image of their star striker, and their team, heartbroken. There would be no magical playoff run this time. No one more game to play. No chance to defend their championship. (It should be noted that Washington beat Atlanta 1-0 on an 88th minute goal from Abby Wambach, so even with a victory Sky Blue would have been level on points with the Freedom and the DC side held the tie-breaker – head-to-head record – so Sky Blue wouldn’t have made the postseason anyway. Little consolation for Sky Blue fans who will likely spend the next few months cursing Karen Bardsley’s clavicle, Jenni Branam’s knee, Carli Lloyd’s ankle, Pauliina Miettinen, Carli Lloyd’s yellow card against FCGP, Jenni Branam’s knee again, and probably 50 other things – but it’s something.)

Speaking of consolation, Stainton pointed to one thing in particular when talking about Sky Blue; the team’s character. “The character speaks for itself. It’s a definite bonus, it’s a plus. They’re incredible personalities and as I told them in the huddle, I’m proud just to be associated with them and to have the adventure that we had, it was an incredible experience.”

A moment of silence was held in remembrance of 9/11 before the match…Carli Lloyd was suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation – three consecutive yellows. Lloyd had received a yellow card in a match on April 25th, later in that game she suffered a broken ankle that kept her off the field for most of the season. She’s made two appearances since returning from the injury, and been booked in both. WPS counts only matches that players have appeared in as “consecutive”, hence the suspension, despite a four month break between the first card and the last two…The 0-0 tie was the second consecutive goalless match, and third consecutive draw for Sky Blue – they played Atlanta to a 0-0 tie on September 5th, and drew 1-1 with FC Gold Pride on September 1st…The clean sheet was the second for Meghann Burke in four appearances…combined, the five goalkeepers Sky Blue used this season have recorded nine shutouts, tying them with Regular Season Champions FC Gold Pride for most in the league…It was the third clean sheet for Alyssa Naeher…Sky Blue FC, along with Atlanta, scored a league worst 20 goals in 2010. Sky Blue scored 19 goals in 2009, but played four fewer games (2010 WPS Golden Boot winner Marta alone scored 19 goals for FC Gold Pride this season)…Rookie Brittany Taylor finished the season as the only player for Sky Blue FC to play every one of the possible 2160 minutes this season…Sky Blue FC have not surpassed the seven win mark in either of their seasons, going 7-10-7 in 2010 and 7-8-5 in 2009 – good for a lifetime record of 14-18-12…Boston was missing English Internationals Kelly Smith and Alex Scott and Sky Blue FC was without Italian International Patrizia Panico – all due to UEFA World Cup Qualifying. Sky Blue was also missing Kelly Parker, who’s away with the Canadian National Team…Because Sky Blue FC failed to make the playoffs, only one team from the 2009 postseason is in the 2010 postseason – the Washington Freedom. The other two playoff teams from ’09, St. Louis Athletica and the Los Angeles Sol, both ceased operations since the 2009 season concluded…The Philadelphia Independence will host the Washington Freedom in the first round, the Boston Breakers will host the winner of that match in the Super Semi-Final, and FC Gold Pride will host the winner of the Semi-Final in the 2010 WPS Championship on September 26th…Sky Blue FC has six players called into the US National Team camp that will start on September 20th for players not in the WPS playoffs: Christie Rampone, Meghan Schnur, Brittany Taylor, Yael Averbuch, Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly.

Sky Blue FC (7-10-7) vs. Boston Breakers (10-8-6)
Saturday, September 11, 2010 β€” Yurcak Field

Team 1 2 F
NJ: 0 0 0
BOS: 0 0 0

SKY BLUE FC β€” Meghan Burke, Brittany Taylor, Keeley Dowling, Christie Rampone, Kendall Fletcher (Rosana, 71′), Heather O’Reilly, Jen Grubb (Yael Averbuch, 71′), Laura Kalmari, Meghan Schnur, Kacey White, Tasha Kai

Substitutes Not Used: India Trotter, Jenni Branam, Shannon Myers, Daphne Koster, Danielle Johnson

BOSTON BREAKERS β€” Alyssa Naeher, Taryn Hemmings, Amy LePeilbet, Ifeoma Dieke, Stephanie Cox, Fabiana, Lindsay Tarpley, Jordan Angeli, Kristine Lilly, Liz Bogus (Laura del Rio, 66′), Lauren Cheney

Substitutes Not Used: Kasey Moore, Chioma Igwe, Ashley Phillips, Analisa Marquez


Shots 7 16
Shots on Goal 3 11
Fouls 7 3
Offside 6 2
Corner Kicks 4 10
Saves 9 3


Referee: Felisha Mariscal
Referee Assistants: Shelley Finger, John Schmitz
4th Official: Brian Dunn
Attendance: 3810

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  1. Guess What? Hope Solo’s Not the Only One Behaving Badly on the Internet! « Seventeen Letters Says:

    […] should be noted that A: I did not see the Freedom-Beat game. I was at Yurcak Field watching Sky Blue FC’s season come to an abrupt end. B: The game had no implications for the Beat, and some pretty huge ones for the Freedom. A win for […]

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