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Sky Blue FC Withstands Red Stars, Weather to Earn Draw on the Road

Posted by iamhannah on April 20, 2009

Bridgeview, Ill. (April 19, 2009) – On a harsh, rainy day, Sky Blue FC withstood a first-half barrage from the Chicago Red Stars to claim a point on the road with a 0-0 tie in Women’s Professional Soccer action. The game was the home opener for the Red Stars at Toyota Park with 5,824 fans braving the conditions.

Despite a strong showing after halftime, Sky Blue FC couldn’t find the back of the net. Fortunately for the visitors, their defense was good enough to hold the Red Stars. Sky Blue FC goalkeepers Karen Bardsley and Jenni Branam split the shutout – Sky Blue FC’s first of the season – with Bardsley recording four saves before leaving the game at halftime with back spasms. Branam posted two saves in the second half.

For the game, Chicago held a 19-8 advantage in shots with most of those coming in the first half, but Sky Blue FC had the more dangerous chances in the game.

“It was great to be a part of history here in Chicago – it was a good crowd and the fans in Chicago are hardcore just like the fans in New Jersey,” said Sky Blue FC Head Coach and General Manager Ian Sawyers. “Coming away with the point on the road is not the perfect outcome. We played much better in the second half and created more chances.”

With the tie, Sky Blue FC stands at 0-1-2 for two points and fifth place in WPS. Chicago now stands at 1-0-2 for five points and third place.

In the opening half, the Red Stars had the better of the play holding a 13-3 advantage in shots while earning 10 corner kicks but the home side couldn’t find the back of the net.

In the 21st minute, Sky Blue FC nearly opened the scoring. Sarah Walsh carried forward before placing a perfectly-weighted splitting ball into the box. Fellow Australian Collette McCallum flew in on the left and beat Red Stars keeper Caroline Jonsson to the ball but her soft chip skimmed off the top of the bar and over.

For the rest of the first half, Sky Blue FC did well to avoid giving up a goal as Chicago pressed. In the 35th minute, Sky Blue FC keeper Karen Bardsley came well off her line to challenge Megan Rapinoe, who controlled the ball along the endline before firing over the goal from an angle. Seconds later, Carli Lloyd went right at Bardsley from distance.

In the 39th minute, the Red Stars came close off a crazy sequence. Karen Carney served a ball in from the right that was flicked on goal by Christiane but Sky Blue FC defender Keeley Dowling was there to clear the ball off the line. On the ensuing play, Rapinoe attempted a bicycle kick from just inside the box that was tipped over the bar by Bardsley.

Right before the halftime whistle, Carney blasted a free kick that was punched over by Bardsley, who took no chances in the wet conditions.

Sky Blue FC came out strong after the break and created the best chances in the second half. The visitors almost made a statement early when Kacey White served in a nice ball in the 48th minute but Julianne Sitch couldn’t turn her header on goal.

In the 61st minute, Sky Blue FC responded with a great counter attack started by Heather O’Reilly, who carried forward before finding Walsh on the right. Her cross went all the way through the box before finding White on the other side of the box. White cut the ball for McCallum but her first-time shot went over the goal from eight yards out.

After McCallum missed the far post from an angle off a nice feed from O’Reilly in the 73rd minute, Sky Blue FC came up with a pretty buildup eight minutes later orchestrated by White in the center of the park. At the end of the possession, White found second-half substitute Natasha Kai and she evaded a defender at the top of the box before blasting a shot that was stopped by Jonsson.

The Red Stars gave their fans a glimmer of hope and Sky Blue FC a big scare in the closing seconds of stoppage time. The ball fell right to the foot of Lindsey Tarpley at the top of the box, but her hard shot was right at Branam, who held on to save the tie for Sky Blue FC.

April 19, 2009 – Toyota Park    1    2    –    F
Sky Blue FC (0-1-2)    0    0    –    0
Chicago Red Stars (1-0-2)    0    0    –    0

Lineups:
Sky Blue FC – 1-Karen Bardsley (GK) (23-Jenni Branam 45′), 38-Julianne Sitch (D), 17-Keeley Dowling (D), 5-Anita Asante (D), 12-Meghan Schnur (D), 20-Kacey White (M), 4-Jen Buczkowski (M), 7-Kelly Parker (M) (6-Natasha Kai 62′), 14-Collette McCallum (F) (10-Yael Averbuch 85′), 9-Heather O’Reilly-Capt. (F), 8-Sarah Walsh (F)

Chicago Red Stars – 1-Caroline Jonsson (GK), 2-Marian Dalmy (D), 4-Ifeoma Dieke (D), 23-Nikki Krzysik (D), 6-Brittany Klein (D) (24-Jill Oakes 76′), 10-Carli Lloyd (M), 12-Chioma Igwe (M), 8-Megan Rapinoe (M), 5-Lindsay Tarpley-Capt. (M), 11-Cristiane (F) (3-Ella Masar 63′), 14-Karen Carney (F)

Referee: Jennifer Bennett
Referee’s Assistants: Donald Dellavia; Kristine West
4th official: Stephanie Toth
Attendance: 5,824
Weather: Rainy & 49 degrees

Cautions:
Sky Blue FC – Julianne Sitch 26′, Meghan Schnur 60′
Chicago Red Stars – Ella Masar 78′

Ejections:
None

Courtesy of: Sky Blue FC

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Rampone, Kai Agree to Terms with Sky Blue FC

Posted by iamhannah on March 21, 2009

SOMERSET, NJ (March 20, 2009) – Sky Blue FC announced today that United States Women’s National Team standouts Christie Rampone and Natasha Kai have agreed to terms. The international duo are expected to be key components for the NJ/NY franchise in the inaugural season of Women’s Professional Soccer.

Rampone, a defender and the USWNT captain, and Kai, a striker, joined Sky Blue FC in preseason a week ago after helping the United States to the final of the Algarve Cup in Portugal. Both players were halftime substitutes when Sky Blue FC posted a 1-0 preseason victory over the Washington Freedom last Saturday with Kai scoring the game’s only goal. The Sky Blue FC preseason continues tonight when it takes on the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, NC.

Both Rampone and Kai will be in uniform when Sky Blue FC kicks off its first-ever season two weeks from tomorrow. Sky Blue FC will battle the Los Angeles Sol – featuring three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta – on April 5th at 4 p.m. at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ. (888-SBFC-TIX | www.SkyBlueStore.com)

With Rampone and Kai secured, Sky Blue FC now features four current USWNT players including Heather O’Reilly and Kacey White, who both previously agreed to terms.

“Obviously with preseason in full swing, it’s been very exciting to get players finally into camp,” said Sky Blue FC Head Coach and General Manager Ian Sawyers. “Since the arrival of our international players just last week, we’ve been playing catch-up with those who played in the Algarve and Cyprus Cups. To have Christie and Tasha officially sign contracts means bringing great athletes to the team. They also add a level of excitement, leadership and motivation which have been a big lift for our group.”

Rampone joins Sky Blue FC with a long and accomplished international career that includes 215 appearances with the USWNT. A native of Point Pleasant, NJ and a graduate of Monmouth University, Rampone has made a name for herself as one of the top defenders in the world. She has played in three FIFA Women’s World Cups, including a championship trophy in 1999, and three Olympics including gold medals in 2004 and 2008. Rampone played for the New York Power in the WUSA from 2001 to 2003 appearing in 55 matches over three seasons. A star forward at Monmouth, she finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 79 goals and 54 assists.

“Christie obviously comes to Sky Blue FC with a level of experience unmatched by many defenders in the world,” Sawyers said. “Her resume boasts a number of championship medals at the highlest level. Her leadership qualities are something we value highly.”

Natasha Kai stormed onto the scene with the USWNT in 2006 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal with goals in each of her first two games and has been a dangerous striker on the international level since. Kai helped the US capture the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when she scored the game-winning goal against Canada in extra time in the quarter finals. She also played in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. She currently boasts 24 goals in 67 career international appearances. On the collegiate level, she was the first player in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) history to earn three Player of the Year awards.

“Tasha is obviously a young player starting her journey to the highest level of play,” Sawyers said. She’s scored valuable goals for the National Team, and we hope that her Sky Blue FC experience will help launch her to even higher levels of performance.”

Courtesy of: Sky Blue FC

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UNC Edges Sky Blue FC in Preseason Exhibition

Posted by iamhannah on March 21, 2009

GREENSBORO, NC (March 20, 2009) – Nikki Washington’s second-half goal was the difference as the University of North Carolina edged Sky Blue FC 2-1 in an exhibition match at Macpherson Stadium. The match featured the defending NCAA College Cup Champions against Sky Blue FC, which is preparing for the inaugural season of Women’s Professional Soccer.
UNC opened the scoring early in the first half thanks to two former Jersey Sky Blue W-League players – Tobin Heath and Casey Nogueira. Heath – a gold medalist with the United States Women’s National Team – scored the goal.
Australian international Sarah Walsh scored the only goal for Sky Blue FC in the closing moments of the opening half off an assist from former UNC All-American Heather O’Reilly. Four former Tar Heels played in the match for Sky Blue FC including O’Reilly, Kacey White, Yael Averbuch, and Jenni Branam.
Sky Blue FC returns to New Jersey on Wednesday after a month in Greensboro. The NJ/NY representative in WPS will open the season on April 5th at 4 p.m. when it hosts three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta and the Los Angeles Sol at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ. (888-SBFC-TIX | www.SkyBlueStore.com)
Sky Blue FC had the first good chance of the game in the seventh minute when Natasha Kai got on the end of a serve from Christie Rampone, but her header was over the goal.
North Carolina put sustained pressure on the Sky Blue FC goal starting with a high shot by Heath in the 14th minute. One minute later, Courtney Jones got in behind on a breakaway but placed her shot right into the hands of Sky Blue FC keeper Karen Bardsley.
In the 17th minute, Washington rolled a shot across the goal off a cross from Nogueira before Heath finally broke the ice in the 18th minute. Nogueira found Heath in the box and she buried a high shot into the goal from close range. Both Nogueira and Heath played in New Jersey for Sky Blue during the 2007 W-League season.
Sky Blue FC knotted the score in the closing moments of the half on an easy finish by Walsh. The Tar Heels defense held up looking for an offside call but the flag stayed down putting Walsh and O’Reilly in alone. Walsh played the ball to O’Reilly, who drew out Tar Heels keeper Ashlyn Harris before returning a pass to the Australian to finish into the open goal.
Sky Blue FC threatened in the second half but couldn’t find the finishing touch. In the 54th minute, after a scramble in the box, White’s effort was stopped by Harris and the ensuing rebound ended up on the foot of Averbuch, who fired wide left from top of box.
Washington’s game-winner came in the 67th minute. The United States youth international carried the ball on a long run up the right side before cutting into the box. She beat two defenders before finishing past Branam into the upper left side of the goal.
Sky Blue FC continued to press late, but Brazilian Rosana missed left in the 77th minute and Harris stopped a shot from Walsh before Kai fired wide left, both within a one-minute span shortly after.
The game was delayed in the 81st minute when North Carolina players Kim Currie and Merritt Mathias collided heads and had to taken away by ambulance. Sky Blue FC’s only other chance after play resumed was a shot off a corner by Christie Shaner that was easily stopped by Harris.
Special thanks to UNC Student Manager Sarah Woerner for contributing to this game report.

STARTING LINEUPS
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA:
Ashlyn Harris, Meghan Klingenberg, Whitney Engen, Merritt Mathias, Casey Nogueira, Rachel Givan, Nikki Washington, Kristi Eveland, Ali Hawkins, Courtney Jones, Tobin Heath.
SKY BLUE FC: Karen Bardsley, Christie Rampone, Jen Buczkowski, Anita Asante, Natasha Kai, Sarah Walsh, Heather O’Reilly, Meghan Schnur, Collette McCallum, Keeley Dowling, Kacey White.

SCORING SUMMARY
UNC:
Tobin Heath (Casey Nogueira) 18th minute
SBFC: Sarah Walsh (Heather O’Reilly) 44th minute
UNC: Nikki Washington 67th minute

Courtesy of: Sky Blue FC

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Sky Blue FC Releases Preseason Roster

Posted by iamhannah on February 27, 2009

SOMERSET, NJ (Feb. 27, 2009) – Sky Blue FC announced today the team’s roster for its first preseason camp ever. The NJ/NY franchise of Women’s Professional Soccer will start its camp on Sunday in Greensboro, NC and will remain there for 3 1/2 weeks in preparation for the league’s inaugural season.

On the initial preseason roster, there are 30 hopefuls trying to stake their claim for a place on the Sky Blue FC squad for the season. Sky Blue FC will be missing six players during the early parts of the preseason due to national team commitments. Christie Rampone, Heather O’Reilly, Natasha Kai, and Kacey White are all currently in Portugal with the United States Women’s National Team. Anita Asante (England) and Kelly Parker (Canada) are both slated to play in the Cyprus Cup. All six are expected to join their Sky Blue FC teammates by mid-March.

In addition to 22 players that were previously allocated, drafted or claimed, there will be eight players in camp on an invitational basis. These eight included five that were invited to preseason:

Krista Bobo – formerly with WUSA’s Washington Freedom and New York Power and W-League’s Atlanta Silverbacks
Domenique Esposito – former Rutgers University standout and Jersey Sky Blue W-League player the past two seasons
Noelle Keselica – former University of Virginia All-American recently played for Bälinge in Sweden
Sophia Perez – Mexico National Team goalkeeper recently played for SD United in the WPSL
Caroline Walden – four-year starter for Boston College is fresh off leading the Eagles defense
In addition, three players were discovered through a try-out process earlier this week and invited to training camp:

Shannon Myers – Villanova University assistant coach was a four-year goalkeeper for Syracuse University
Courtney Nash – long-time player for the West Michigan Firewomen in the W-League played for Saginaw Valley State
Mary Velan – Stevens Institute of Technology assistant coached played for the Adirondack Lynx in the WPSL and collegiately for SUNY Oneonta
According to WPS rules, each team may only maintain a roster of 28 players at any one time during the preseason. On March 13, each team is required to cut its roster down to 24 players. The final rosters of 18 players plus four development players will be announced on March 25.

SKY BLUE FC PRESEASON ROSTER
Player (Last, First)    Pos.    Country    College    Last Club
Alexander, Cori    GK    USA    Portland     Seattle Sounders
Asante, Anita    D    England    —     Chelsea Ladies
Averbuch, Yael     M    USA    North Carolina     Arsenal World Class
Bardsley, Karen     GK     England    Cal-State Fullerton     Pali Blues
Bobo, Krista    D/M     USA    North Texas      Atlanta Silverbacks
Buczkowski, Jen    M    USA    Notre Dame     Chicago Gaels
Cooper, Fanta      D    USA    Wisconsin-Milwaukee     Umeå Södra
Dowling, Keeley     D    USA    Tennessee     KIF Örebro
Esposito, Domenique     M    USA    Rutgers     Jersey Sky Blue
French, Mele     F    USA    Oregon     Pali Blues
Hammond, Jenny    D    USA    Clemson     Chicago Gaels
Keselica, Noelle    M    USA    Virginia       Bälinge
Kai, Natasha     F    USA    Hawaii      Kailua AA
McCallum, Collette     M    Australia    —      Perth Glory
McDonnell, Mary Therese     D    Ireland    Illinois      Boston Renegades
Myers, Shannon    GK    USA    Syracuse      Lancaster Inferno
Nash, Courtney      M/D    USA    Saginaw Valley State     West Michigan Firewomen
O’Reilly, Heather       M/F    USA    North Carolina    New Jersey Wildcats
Parker, Kelly     M    Canada    Texas-El Paso      FC Indiana
Perez, Sophia     GK    Mexico    San Diego State      SD United
Rampone, Christie    D    USA    Monmouth      New York Power
Rosana     M    Brazil    —      SV Neulengbach
Schnur, Megan      M    USA    Connecticut      New England Mutiny
Shaner, Christie        D    USA    Notre Dame    FC Indiana
Sitch, Julianne    D    USA    DePaul      FC Indiana
Velan, Mary       F/MF    USA    Oneonta State    Adirondack Lynx
Walden, Caroline     D    USA    Boston College     SoccerPlus Connecticut
Walsh, Sarah    F    Australia    —    Sydney FC
White, Kacey     M/F    USA    North Carolina     Bälinge
Zhang, Ouying     F    China    —     San Diego Sea Lions
How they were acquired:

USWNT Allocation: Natasha Kai, Heather O’Reilly, Christie Rampone

International Draft (Round in parentheses): Kelly Parker (4), Rosana (2), Sarah Walsh (1)

Post-Draft Discovery: Anita Asante, Collette McCallum

General Draft (Round in parentheses): Cori Alexander (1), Keeley Dowling (2), Jenny Hammond (4), Kacey White (3)

WPS 2009 Draft (Round in parentheses): Yael Averbuch (1), Karen Bardsley (3), Jen Buczkowski (6), Fanta Cooper (10), Mele French (9), Mary Therese McDonnell (8), Megan Schnur (2), Christie Shaner (4), Julianne Sitch (5), Ouying Zhang (7)

Invitation Players: Krista Bobo, Domenique Esposito, Noelle Keselica, Shannon Myers, Courtney Nash, Sophia Perez, Mary Valen, Caroline Walden

Courtesy of: Sky Blue FC

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Sky Blue FC Reaches Terms with O’Reilly, White, Averbuch

Posted by iamhannah on February 24, 2009

SOMERSET, NJ (Feb. 24, 2009) – Sky Blue FC added three highly-talented Americans to its roster today with the announcement that Heather O’Reilly, Kacey White and Yael Averbuch have agreed to terms. The three United States internationals join the NJ/NY franchise of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) for the league’s inaugural season.

O’Reilly will “officially” sign her contract tonight at the PUMA team uniform unveiling event in New York City. Sky Blue FC will hold a contract signing ceremony for Averbuch tomorrow morning when the team holds its open tryouts at the GoodSports USA facility in Wall Township, NJ.

All three players have experience with the United States Women’s National Team and all three also starred on the collegiate level at the University of North Carolina, winning multiple NCAA College Cup championships. O’Reilly is a mainstay with the USWNT appearing in two Olympics and one FIFA World Cup while White was an alternate for the 2008 Olympics. Both O’Reilly and White are on the current USWNT roster for the Algarve Cup in March. Averbuch has two caps with the full USWNT and has starred on multiple youth levels from U-16 to U-23.

“Heather, Kacey and Yael form a fantastic UNC triumvirate for us here at Sky Blue FC,” said Sky Blue FC General Manager and Head Coach Ian Sawyers. “Their pedigree is second to none and we are really looking forward to providing a formidable platform for them to take their professional careers to a new level. They each bring special qualities not only as great players but also as first class ambassadors of the game. We look forward to the soccer community in New Jersey getting behind them.”

Sky Blue FC opens its season on April 5th at 4 p.m. when it hosts three-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta and the Los Angeles Sol at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, NJ. (888-SBFC-TIX – http://www.SkyBlueStore.com)

O’Reilly celebrated her 100th cap with the USWNT last fall in the team’s victory tour after it captured the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The East Brunswick, NJ native made her debut with the USWNT in 2002 at the age of 17 and also appeared in the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Sky Blue FC obtained the rights to O’Reilly in the WPS Allocation in September.

White has been a member of the USWNT pool since 2006 when she appeared at the Peace Queen Cup. The Arlington, TX native has experience with the US U-19 and U-21 National Teams including a Nordic Cup title in 2004. On the club level, she played in Sweden’s Damallsvenskan with Bälinge in 2006 and 2007 and with AIK in 2007. She also earned W-League Championship MVP honors with the New Jersey Wildcats in 2005. Sky Blue FC selected White in the third round of the WPS 2008 General Draft.

Averbuch was Sky Blue FC’s first-round draft pick in the WPS 2009 Draft in January. She joins the team after a successful career at North Carolina, where the three-time All-American led the Tar Heels to College Cup championships in 2006 and 2008. The Upper Montclair, NJ native was a member of the US team that finished third in the FIFA Under-19 World Championships in Thailand in 2004, and is currently the captain of the US U-23 National Team.

Courtesy of: Sky Blue FC

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