April 10, 2011

Philly and Sky Blue Play to a 2-2 Draw

Tina DiMartino's goal in stoppage helped the Philadelphia Independence overcome an early deficit and tie Sky Blue 2-2 in a match played at Yurcak Field in Piscataway.

Early on, it was all Sky Blue as the home side put together a solid first half and dominated possession. Philadelphia did have the first scoring chance of the match 13 minutes in. Lianne Sanderson crossed the ball from the right side with Kai closing fast on the back post. Kai, was able to get her foot on it, but the pass was a bit to hot to get solid control and Kai's touch went over the net from the six.

For the remainder of the 1st half, Sky Blue did a nice job of controlling the tempo of the game, stringing together several passes at a time. In the 18th minute, Allie Long found Brittany Taylor alone on the right side. Taylor took one touch to control and then hit a low cross with pace as Laura Kalmari got inside the defender and finished lower right from inside the six. It was an excellent sequence from the 2009 champions.

Sky Blue made it 2-0 in the 37th minute. Casey Nogueira curled a free kick from 25 yards just over the head over Nicole Barnhart and into the upper left corner of the net. The half ended with Sky Blue apparently in full control and a 2-0 lead.

Coach Paul Riley inserted Amy Rodriguez into the lineup to start the second half and Philly seemed to pick up the pace as the match wore on.

It was Rodriguez who cut the Sky Blue lead in half at the 56 minute mark. Lianne Sanderson did a nice job of keeping possession at the half line and sent a beautiful ball up the right sideline to Tasha Kai. Kai quickly released a pass to the middle to Rodriguez who had beaten the defense and calmly dribbled into the box and touched the ball into the lower left side of the net as an onrushing Jen Branam was unable to do anything to stop it.

More substitutions followed with Lori Lindsey entering the game for the Independence and Danielle Johnson and Tobin Heath entering the match for Sky Blue.

Casey Nogueira nearly increased the lead back to two, as she ripped a shot from the top of the box, but Barnhart made the save of the match, diving to push the ball wide of the goal.

Both teams made one final substitution with a hobbled Kendall Fletcher coming off in favor of Angie Kerr and Laura del Rio entered the match for Estelle Johnson. As it turned out, del Rio would play a part in the tying goal.

The sequence started with a free kick from the left sideline for Philadelphia, as Amy Rodriguez was able to draw a foul. The free kick taken by Lindsey was nearly headed in by Kai, as Allie Long was able to stop the ball just a yard short of the goal. Sky Blue was able to clear the ball out of bounds.

However, on the ensuing throw in, Sinead Farrelly gained possession in the box and tried to dribble toward the middle. Farrelly was taken down, with no call being made, but the ball deflected right to del Rio who touched it back to DiMartino. DiMartino hit it solidly from 12 yards and the ball deflected off Anita Asante's foot, over a diving Jen Branam, and into the net.

Sky Blue had a late chance on a corner kick, but in spite of Philadelphia struggling briefly to clear, SBFC was unable to score.

Philadelphia hosts magicJack next Saturday, while Sky Blue travels to Atlanta.