Sky Blue FC visits SPFHS for preseason friendly


Robert Fallo

Photo by Robert Fallo
On March 14, Sky Blue FC, a member of the National Women’s Soccer League, visited Wexler Field in their first preseason game against the St. John’s University Red Storm.
Sky Blue FC once again showed that professionals are superior to collegiate teams with a 3-0 defeat over the Johnnies in an affair which offered no shortage of rain.
A second half boost helped seal the win for Sky Blue, but that doesn’t mean the action started there.
In the sixth minute, the 5’2 Katy Freels of Sky Blue FC had a strike inside the box that was saved on a great attempt by St. John’s goalkeeper and Fresno State transfer, Katie DeVault.
Later on in the 28th minute, New Jersey native Maya Hayes had a brilliant header that got passed DeVault, but a Red Storm defender had her goalie’s back as she cleared the ball to preserve St. John’s clean sheet. A similar play occurred later in the game, with a St. John’s defender again acting as the last line of defense to save a goal for the Red Storm.
Although there was a lack of scoring at half with the score knotted at zero, Sky Blue commanded possession, not allowing St. John’s to sniff the ball. The Sky Blue firm back line of Rachel Breton, Meg Morris, Kristin Grubka, and Lindsi Cutshall made sure no Red Storm striker got inside the 18 yard box while also giving the ball back to their midfielders as quick as possible.
In the mind of Sky Blue FC manager, Jim Gabarra, the style of the match didn’t give the club many opportunities in the first half. But, Sky Blue made adjustments to get the ball through the net in the second half, “The first half we were tentative, we were a little bit passive, and kind of unsure of ourselves because we haven’t played that much together. I think the second half we were more aggressive and put them [St. John’s] under more pressure and scored goals,” Gabarra said.
Mere minutes after the second half whistle was blown, Hayes was fouled inside the box to give Freels a penalty kick and a chance to break the tie. The Auburn alum placed the ball in the bottom left hand corner side to give her team the lead.
Six minutes later in the 56th, Freels again left a mark on St. John’s, feeding rookie and second overall pick Sarah Killion to put the Johnnies in a two goal deficit.
After the hookup between the two midfielders, Hayes finally got her chance to run up the score after missing a few opportunities early on. She scored off a pass from Theresa Diederich to make the score and eventual final, 3-0.
Soccer Star Infographic
Graphic by Gabriela MacPherson
Sky Blue FC dominated possession throughout the game especially in the second half. Sky Blue keepers Brittany Cameron and Aubrey Bledsoe, who each played one half, did not have much work to do between the posts due to the lack of St. John’s possession in the Johnnies attacking third.
Perhaps this win foreshadows the rest of Sky Blue’s season, but Gabarra knows how tough it can be to succeed in a league like the NWSL, “Our league is known for being the best league and the reason for that is the parity. On any given game day any team can beat anyone.”
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