On Wednesday night, Utah Royals FC hosted Sky Blue FC and earned their biggest win of the 2019 National Women's Soccer League season. The Royals had been on a six game winless streak, but that streak was broken as they dominated Sky Blue in a 3-0 victory. Utah came out slow early in the match, but they turned on the jets late in the first half and never let up for the rest of the game. Sky Blue had their worst defensive game in a long time as they allowed three goals.
Christen Press dominates the first half
The game started with Sky Blue FC on the front foot. SBFC had firm control of the possession and generated a few strong offensive opportunities. Their best early opportunity came when Jen Hoy chased the ball down the left side, beat her defender, and sent a low cross through the box. It slid all the way across to Elizabeth Eddy on the far right side of goal, but her shot was off target.
Utah took the lead in the 27th minute. Royals midfielder Lo'eau LaBonta took the ball in the middle of the park and charged at the defense. Sky Blue FC midfielder Carli Lloyd fell away from LaBonta instead of challenging her, and it allowed her to play the ball forward to Christen Press. The ball had a little too much pace initially, but Sky Blue defender Erica Skroski clipped the ball in an attempt to clear it away. The ball checked up in front of Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, and Press chipped the ball calmly past the keeper.
Just two minutes later, Press doubled the lead. LaBonta took the ball down the right side of the field and sent a cross in from the end line. It went through the six-yard box without any defender getting a touch, and Press shot it across her body to the left on the bounce. Sheridan made a diving save attempt, but the shot was well placed and the lead grew to 2-0 for the home team.
The game opened up in the second half
Utah got right back to scoring at the beginning of the second half. URFC defender Mallory Weber collected the ball on the left side of the pitch and charged towards the defense. The Sky Blue FC back line fell away from Weber who had time to pick out forward Amy Rodriguez in the attack. She passed it central to Rodriguez who scored off a single touch. It was the first three-goal game for Utah this season.
The rest of the game was a flurry of Utah shots that had to be saved by Sheridan. Press had three more shots on target as the second half progressed, but she was never able to quite score the hat trick. In the end, Utah had 12 shots on target to just three for Sky Blue FC. Sheridan was forced to make eight saves on the night, but Utah goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart was able to save all three of Sky Blue's shots on goal. Both teams were able to blaze up and down the pitch with scoring opportunities, but neither team was able to change the 3-0 scoreline.
The win moved Utah Royals FC (6W-3D-6L) into sixth place in the standings while Sky Blue FC (2W-3D-11L) remained in last place. Utah has a quick turn around for their next game. On Sunday, the Royals travel to Washington State to face off against Reign FC. Sky Blue FC plays next Wednesday at home against the Chicago Red Stars.