PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Sky Blue FC recorded back-to-back wins for the first time since August 2017 as Jen Hoy’s stoppage time goal gave the hosts a 1-0 victory over the Utah Royals.
The play began when Royals goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart’s goal kick landed in Sky Blue’s possession. Eventually, midfielder Sarah Killion sent the ball to Hoy, who made her way into the penalty area and worked her way around defenders to score the game winner a week after scoring the winner at the Chicago Red Stars.
“Jen was kind of in a scramble, and I just followed up,” Killion said following the match. “It kind of fell to me and she took off running. Jen, one of her biggest strengths is getting in behind and taking defenders one on one in the box so it was an easy decision to play her and she got the job done.”
The first half was a relatively even affair, with both sides having opportunities to score. The hosts started the match well, with the attacking trio of Raquel Rodriguez, Imani Dorsey, and Elizabeth Eddy actively creating and attempting to finish opportunities.
“I think that we would all agree in this first half, the first 10 minutes, we were really aggressive,” Hoy said.W”e were really on them and you could tell that we had the momentum.”
As the half continued, though, the Royals managed some opportunities of their own. In what was perhaps the best chance of the half, a 28th minute effort from Amy Rodriguez hit the post before Erika Tymrak’s effort on the rebound flew left of the net. The teams rotated meaningful possession and chances for the remainder of the first half, but neither could find the net.
The second half saw Sky Blue dominate, as the attackers and wide players continued to advance the ball. The Royals mostly absorbed pressure and took their opportunities on the counterattack, which was the case early in the half. A Sky Blue corner was cleared in the 47th minute, and Amy Rodriguez eventually won possession near the halfway line. Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan was not far away and managed a clearance of her own, restarting the Sky Blue attack.
The second half was mostly dominated by the hosts, though, who sent a flurry of shots towards the Royals’ goal at the start. A 59th minute volley from distance by Raquel Rodriguez landed on target, but also in the hands of Barnhart.
Similarly to the first half, the Royals managed more opportunities as the half continued. The last 15 minutes, in particular, saw them make more attacking runs, but shots were in short supply. Eventually, it was Sky Blue that got the breakthrough after a match that saw them take 16 total shots, four on target.
“I feel like we proved that we can play until the last second,” goalkeeper coach Hugo Macedo said as he shares the head coaching duties with assistant coaches Christiane Lessa. “That shows that we have a lot of heart.”
Both sides were missing members of the World Cup-winning U.S. team Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, and Christen Press. The Royals’ Vero Boquete, meanwhile, missed the match with a right ankle injury.
The result sees Sky Blue earn its second win and clean sheet of the season, though the team remains last on the table. The Royals, meanwhile, are in fifth place, a point behind fourth-place Washington Spirit.