PISCATAWAY, N.J. — In a match that saw three second half goals, it was rookie Paige Monaghan’s brace that earned Sky Blue FC its third win of the season as the team beat the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 Wednesday at Yurcak Field.
The game winner came in stoppage time, just a minute after Sam Kerr scored the Red Stars’ equalizer. From midfield, Carli Lloyd sent a ball towards Julie James Doyle, who eventually found Monaghan darting towards the box. From the edge of the penalty area, Monaghan scored in the third minute of stoppage time to give Sky Blue the go-ahead goal.
“I peeled out and [Doyle] slipped the ball in,” Monaghan said following the match. “I saw Naeher off her line and knew I had to one-touch it to finish so I just hit it near post. My team really set me up on that one. I just had to put it away.”
Up until that point, the match had been one dominated by the two goalkeepers, Sky Blue’s Kailen Sheridan and the Red Stars’ Alyssa Naeher. The visitors were dominant throughout the first half, sending shot after shot towards Sheridan. An early shot by Kerr was saved, essentially setting the tone of the first half. Most impressively, Sheridan stopped a shot from Julie Ertz in the 33rd minute, managing to slightly tip it over the crossbar.
“I thought the first 25 to 30 minutes, we missed two or three chances that we don’t normally miss,” Red Stars head coach Rory Dames said.
Though the Red Stars dominated, Sky Blue managed a few of their own shots in the opening 45 minutes. As has frequently been the case this season, the hosts created many of their opportunities on the counterattack, and forced Naeher into making a save midway through the first half.
Sky Blue appeared more urgent in the second half, sending a flurry of shots towards the Red Stars goal at the start. Jen Hoy took a shot from distance in the 60th minute that found itself just wide of the goal as the New Jersey club continued to search for the opening score.
“We knew if we got into the 60th, 70th minute and the game was tied or it was tight that it would become an issue for us physically and credit to that,” Dames said. “[They’re] pretty direct and pretty dynamic up front so they make you deal with a lot of balls and in the second half, we had a lot of possession but we didn’t really create much.”
“We did all our homework,” Sky Blue goalkeeper coach Hugo Macedo said. “I think position wise, the right personnel in the right position [led to a] great performance offensively.”
It eventually came through Monaghan’s first career goal. The play began as Lloyd made her way down the left side of the field, eventually finding Monaghan near the penalty area. From there, the rookie made her way to the left side of the box and took a shot from an angle, with the ball landing in the bottom right corner of the goal in the 71st minute.
“Carli had the ball and peeled out wide, she had the perfect hole to slip me through,” Monaghan said. “I cut the girl inside and smacked it as hard as I could far post and it went in. It was really cool my first goal, but probably an even better feeling having an assist from Carli Lloyd.”
After the goal came, the match evened out. Sheridan was forced again into making saves, including one on a shot from Kerr in the final ten minutes of the match. Sky Blue, meanwhile, continued to try to add to its lead. In stoppage time, the match saw its final twists and turns.
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Before Monaghan’s game winner, Kerr pounced on a ball in the penalty area after the Red Stars earned a corner kick. The goalscorer finished from close range, seemingly earning the Red Stars a point in the 91st minute. It took less than two minutes for Sky Blue to score the game winner.
“Great win,” Macedo said. “They showed resilience, played like they wanted to win the game and we did. It would be unfair if we didn’t get the win today but we did.”
Over the course of the 90 minutes, both teams were dealt injury blows. Sky Blue’s Imani Dorsey came off in the 40th minute with an ankle injury. She left Yurcak Field with a boot on her right foot, but Macedo said the injury was “nothing major.” Kerr, meanwhile, left the stadium on crutches.
The result lifts Sky Blue to eighth place, while the Red Stars remain second in the National Women’s Soccer League table.