Sky Blue FC continued their shocking roll by beating Utah Royals FC 1-0 thanks to a stoppage-time goal from forward Jen Hoy. Sky Blue has now won both of their games since the firing of former head coach Denise Reddy three weeks ago. Utah has been held scoreless in their last three matches, and they have fallen from first to sixth in the standings over the last five weeks.
An even first half leads to a scoreless first 45 minutes
The game opened with Sky Blue on the front foot. They had a few offensive opportunities within the first five minutes, but they didn't have a chance that challenged Utah goalkeeper Nichole Barnhart. As the half wore on, Utah slowly gained the upper hand. They were able to generate some good bouts of possession, and it looked like they were going to break through with direct passes to forward Amy Rodriguez.
In the 28th minute it looked like Utah was going to take the lead. A through ball from Mandy Laddish broke Rodriguez in behind the Sky Blue defense with SBFC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan retreating towards her goal. Rodriguez took a shot that pinged off of the left post from the top of the box, and while the ball rolled out to Gunnhildur Jonsdottir, she couldn't put a shot back on target. Utah would never come closer to scoring than that moment.
Despite controlling the rest of the first half, Utah would head into the locker room tied up at 0-0.
The half-time break gives Sky Blue renewed belief
New Jersey came out with a lot of excitement and pressure in the second half. After a lackluster first half offensively, Sky Blue significantly outshot Utah in the second half. Barnhart was forced to make a save early in the half, but as the game dragged on both teams started to slow down. Both teams were able to generate a few quality chances in front of goal, with Raquel Rodriguez for Sky Blue controlling the midfield for parts of the game, but the clock slowly ticked toward full time with zeros still on the scoreboard.
Then, in the 92nd minute, the lone goal of the game was finally scored. Sky Blue midfielder Sarah Killion found space on the left side of the pitch and pulled the Utah defense out of shape. She passed the ball in to Jen Hoy in the box, and Hoy was able to dribble through the defense, create some space, and send the ball to the far right side netting past the outstretched hands of Barnhart.
Sky Blue was able to keep control of the ball for most of the remaining time and the stands erupted when the ref blew for full time.
Hoy has now scored the game-winning goal for Sky Blue FC in two straight games. Carli Lloyd is expected to return to Sky Blue next week. For Utah, after three scoreless games, Christen Press, Vero Boquete, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O'Hara are scheduled to return for the team.