Western New York Flash defeat Sky Blue FC 2-1
Forward Maya Hayes was one of the lone bright spots for the Sky Blue FC | Sky Blue FC

Despite a strong first half, the Sky Blue FC were unable to hold back a tough Western New York Flash squad, falling to a 2-1 defeat last night in New Jersey.

First Half Highlights

Forward Maya Hayes opened the scoring in the game's 35th minute when she collected a pass from midfielder Raquel Rodriguez and sent a strong right-footed shot past Flash goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo.

For most of the opening twenty minutes, the Sky Blue were able to control the pace and tempo of the match, putting good pressure on the Flash defense, led by forward Tasha Kai and defender Kelley O'Hara.  O'Hara sent a beautiful cross that Kai headed towards goal, but the shot sailed just wide. A few minutes later in the 18th minute, O'Hara took matters into her own hands went she juked past the defense and sent a solid shot on goal which was denied by D'Angelo. "I think in the first half we had good control of the game, we controlled the tempo and style of play that we wanted," said Sky Blue manager Christy Holly after the game.

The Flash, led by Abby Dahlkemper and Sam Mewis, played a rough, physical style of play in the first half that generated a yellow card for Dahlkemper, but little offense. Right before Hayes' goal, the Flash sent a flurry of shots at goalie Caroline Stanley, who kept her cool and made the key save. That was all the offense the Flash could muster, and Hayes' goal in the 36th minute fired up a relatively quiet crowd. 

Second Half Highlights

The second half was a stark contrast to the first. Whereas the visiting Flash struggled in the first half, the home side seemed to lose their composure in the second, highlighted by the yellow card issued to Stanley who vehemently argued a call to the referee. Indeed, there were several questionable calls (and non-calls) by the refs, including a hand ball called on Sky Blue defender Erica Skroski. The end result of the call was a penalty kick, and defender Jaelene Hinkle was able to convert and make it a 1-1 match. When this reporter asked Holly about the loss of focus, he responded by saying "we didn't get a good foothold, we didn't make good decisions on the ball. I think we showed a little bit of our naivety, we showed our lack of experience."

The Flash then grabbed the lead for good in the 86th minute after Hinkle delivered a cross into the box for Jessica McDonald. Stanley went up for the ball and collided with McDonald, knocking it from the air. As Stanley went to the ground, midfielder Samantha Mewis raced onto the rebound and struck it into the back of the net.

Makenzy Doniak helped lead a furious second half comeback | Western New York Flash
Makenzy Doniak helped lead a furious second half comeback | Western New York Flash

Despite five minutes of extra time being added on, the Sky Blue could not come up with an equalizer.

Final Thoughts

For Holly's squad, it was a tale of two halves. The first half saw a sharp and focused squad. The second half saw a young team show their youth with mistakes and loss of focus. Playing in front of a sparse crowd did not help. Holly is the right man to get things on track and the team still does not have its full compliment of players. Hayes was the star of the game and she has been one of the few bright spots this young season. It should be noted that O'Hara looked visibly angry after the match, having an intense discussion with her assistant coaches.

For the Flash, it was a much-needed win for a team struggling to find itself. Mewis cannot continue to be the sole source of scoring for Paul Riley's squad.

NWSL Match Report
Match: Sky Blue FC vs. Western New York Flash
Date: May 7, 2016
Venue: Yurcak Field; Piscataway, New Jersey
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. ET
Attendance: 1252
Weather: 59 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary:
SBFC: 1 0 - 1
WNY: 0 2 - 2
SBFC 35 Maya Hayes (Raquel Rodriguez)
WNY 71 Jaelene Hinkle (Penalty Kick)
WNY 86 Samantha Mewis
SBFC: Stanley; O'Hara, Skroski, Rampone (C), Simon; Lytle (Conheeney-62), Stanton, Killion, Rodriguez (Schulmann-76); Kai, Hayes (Gordon-82)
Unused subs: Casey, Gordon, Nick, DeCesare
Head Coach: Christy Holly
WNY: D'Angelo, Eddy, Mewis, Erceg, Ga Eul (Hahn-68), Kennedy, Smith (Hamilton-84), Dahlkemper, McDonald, Hinkle, Leon (Doniak-68)
Unused subs: Eckerstrom, Andrade, Niemiec, Speck
Head Coach: Paul Riley