After the USA released its roster for the World Cup last thursday, all teams in the NWSL were ridded of their USWNT players and with that a new phase started in the league. Some teams had it worse than others, and North Carolina Courage and Sky Blue FC are examples of that.
The Courage lost Sam Mewis, Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald and Abby Dahlkemper but they still have players like Abby Erceg, McCall Zerboni and Stephanie Labbé in the team.
While Sky Blue they "only" lost Carly Lloyd but the team has many youngsters and so coach Denisse Reddy is still trying to put all the pieces together and building chemistry between the lines.
So the result was great for the New Jersey club and with this, they collected a valuable point on the road.
One of the duels of the match was between Kailen Sheridan and Lynn Williams. And that started at the 19' when North Carolina had the first clear chance to break the deadlock. Kristen Hamilton run through the field and sent the ball to a running Williams, whose shot hit the post after she outpaced the defence line.
Debinha had another clear chance minutes after that but her shot hit the post again.
The second half started but a heavy rain stopped the game, which was resumed at the 53'. After the weather delay both teams had the opportunity to score but the keepers came out big to save their teams and keep things scoreless.
First Savannah McCaskill shot a volley who was going to get into Labbé's goal but she went to the ground to block that shot. Two minutes later, Hamilton was wide open and she entered inside the box with the ball at her feet, got ridded of her defender and shot but Sheridan save that ball in a spectacular way.
Minutes after that, a through ball got to the feet of Williams but Sheridan again did a great save by getting out of her goal line, blocking her and slowing her down, so her defence could swept that ball away after that.
In the 89' Debinha almost scored from long distance while trying to catch Sheridan off her line but the ball ended up over the crossbar. Thirty seconds later, McCaskill got the ball in the box after a defence error from North Carolina, and she could've shot but saw her teammate Imani Dorsey who had a better angle and passed the ball to her. Dorsey beat Labbé with her shot but Merritt Mathias was the superheroe of the night for the Courage since she stopped that ball before it crossed the goal line.
The last dangerous play created a lot of controversy. In the 90' Sky Blue could've gotten a penalty after Sarah Killion's shot that the North Carolina defence stopped with a hand. The penalty wasn't awarded and the final result was 0-0.
The keepers, key players
Both keepers got clean sheets but when you see the stats and the action that happened on the field, you can see Sheridan had a nother great night. Let's remember that, even without their UWSNT stars, the Courage still has a powerfull team. In the other hand, Labbé was hardly challenged but when it was required she answered well.
New Jersey's defence did what they could, throwing their bodies in front of goal and getting rid of the rebounds as soon as they could. Nonetheless, the Courage had 28 shots but only 3 on goal, and 15 corners. That's saying much about the problems the team is having to capitalize their chances... or the problems Sky Blue faces in the midfield. The New Jersey club couldn't connect well in between lines and so the Courage had it easy when they wanted to put the ball on the feet of their forwards.
On the side of Sky Blue, they only managed to have 8 shots and just like their opponents, had 3 shots on goals. Besides, they got 5 corners. They put Jen Hoy as the only forward but she couldn't create any problem for the host's defence line.
This was the last week of Labbé and Sheridan on the team, since all the Canadians are going to camp now to prepare for the World Cup. So the big question for Sky Blue is going to be the goal. Despite how young she is, Kailen Sheridan is always on point for the team, as the last bastion. And even in the worst of Sky Blue matches, Sheridan has always been there. Undoubtly, it will be hard to replace her all these weeks.
NJ: 1-Kailen Sheridan, 3-Caprice Dydasco, 4- Paige Monaghan, 8-Erica Skroski, 24-Estelle Johnson, 5-Julie James, 9-Naho Kawasumi, 16-Sarah Killion (C), 28-Imani Dorsey, 7-Jen Hoy (21-Savannah McCaskill, 52), 11-Raquel Rodriguez
Subs not used: 13-Didi Haracic, 29-Amandine Pierre-Louis, 14-Kenie Wright, 20-Gabi, 2-McKenzie Meehan
NC: 1-Stephanie Labbé, 15-Jaelene Hinkle, 6-Abby Erceg ©, 3-Kaleigh Kurtz, 11-Merritt Mathias, 23-Kristen Hamilton (17-Heather O’Reilly, 85), 7-McCall Zerboni, 8-Denise O’Sullivan, 10-Debinha; 9-Lynn Williams, 16-Julia Spetsmark (12-Leah Pruitt, 54)
Subs not used: 38-Sam Leshnak, 4-Liz Eddy, 20-Ryan Williams, 16-Cari Roccaro, 25-Meredith Speck