The quasi dark side of RBNY fandom.
On Sunday, two of the east coast’s top NWSL teams battled it out in the hopes of attaining their first victory of the season. NJ’s Sky Blue FC and Western New York Flash took to Yurcak field in Piscataway, NJ for the home opener. The Blues ended up with the victory after an own goal late in the first half. It was a hard-fought, back-and-forth game for 90+ minutes.
The game didn’t take long to get exciting. In the 16th minute, Veronica Perez was taken down hard and WNY was issued a penalty kick. Forward Adriana stepped up to take it but NJ goalkeeper Brittany Cameron made a diving save to keep the game at 0-0. “I just said ‘if it’s meant to be then it’s meant to be,'” Cameron recalled, “you know, I just guessed right and lucky I got up fast enough.”
A few minutes later Abby Wambach caught Cameron off her line and chipped a shot just out of her reach, but it flew over the crossbar.
Sky Blue’s goal came in the 42nd minute when a corner kick into the box found the foot of Coco Goodson. Her shot was deflected into the net by McCall Zerboni for an own goal and gave New Jersey the lead.
In the second half, the defense was able to keep Abby Wambach controlled and hold on to the lead.
In the 57th minute, Forward Lisa De Vanna made a run up the middle and took a shot on goal. Franch was able to just get her fingertips on it and make the save. De Vanna nearly struck again in the 70th minute when she got past her defender and fired another shot at Franch. The goalkeeper was able to get a hand on it and keep SBFC to a 1-0 game.
Just before the final whistle, Abby Wambach nearly tied the match when she received a ball just inside the penalty box. Cameron came out and battled for it but Wambach got a foot on it and took a last-chance shot on goal. Luckily the ball sailed just over the cross bar and Cameron earned the shut out.
Kelley O’Hara started as a left back, instead of her expected position as a forward. “I’ve been leaning towards that for the last couple of weeks,” coach Gabarra said after the game, “simply because otherwise it would be Christie [Rampone] with three rookies. And I felt that she’s played with Kelley back there for two years and, if you start with a back four that’s new and hadn’t played together that much in preseason, I thought it was a safer way to go.”
We spoke to defender Kelley O’Hara after the game and got her thoughts on the first official game, “I’m so pumped it was so fun! We had a great crowd tonight, we got a W – three points, so it’s a great night.”
Head Coach Jim Gabarra was pleased with the win and spoke about the team’s first game. “It was a very physical battle and both teams fought hard. There were some good spells and some spells where we obviously have some things to work on.” As for getting the first game out of the way, “It’s a starting point and win, lose, or draw is always a good place to start and I think the biggest thing is having next weekend off. Getting a win and not lettng those two points slip away at the end will do a lot for our confidence.”
Sky Blue was the only victor in the four NWSL matches this week (the other three games were 1-1 draws), which puts them in first place.
Their next game will be on Saturday, April 27th at Washington Spirit. You can catch that game via live stream at NWSL.com.
The next home game will be on Wednesday, May 8th against the Chicago Red Stars at Yurcak Field.