Sam Kerr leads Sky Blue FC to late 1-0 win in North Carolina
Kerr scored her sixth goal of the season in the 84th minute
Sam Kerr celebrates her goal with Kelley O'Hara and Maya Hayes in North Carolina. (Photo credit: Andy Mead for
Sam Kerr celebrates her goal with Kelley O'Hara and Maya Hayes in North Carolina. (Photo credit: Andy Mead for

Sky Blue FC stole three points on the road against the North Carolina Courage thanks to a late finish from reigning back-to-back Player of the Month Sam Kerr. The 1-0 defeat is North Carolina’s fourth loss of the season, as Sky Blue moves to 6-6-1 and 19 points through Week 11 — good enough for third place on the table. While that might change after Saturday’s late game between Portland Thorns FC and Seattle Reign FC, it was clear that the win on the road was a massive one for the Jersey side.

“I don’t like losing twice in a row,” Kerr said after the match.

Defender Christie Pearce kept things scoreless early, blocking a shot from Courage forward Makenzy Doniak. Doniak had beaten Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, but Pearce was in the right place to put her body on the line.

Both teams were cagey for most of the the first half, but in the second it looked like Courage midfielder Samantha Mewis would earn the chance to put her team ahead at home. She drew a penalty from Sheridan in the box, but Sheridan saved her right-footed shot that was in the center of the goal.

With the save and the eventual 1-0 scoreline, Sheridan earned the shut out in North Carolina. After the match, Sheridan said “It’s been a really tough week for us. Three top teams, three days apart — that’s insane. This team really held it together.”

Forward Jessica McDonald made her return from injury (left hamstring strain) for North Carolina in the 70th minute, and immediately made her mark on the game during the 73rd minute.

Ultimately, the game was settled by— who else — Sam Kerr. Her sixth goal of the season all started with the fresh legs of Sky Blue substitute Leah Galton. Her cross found Maya Hayes, who flicked it to the back post. Kerr was ready and waiting with an empty net in front of her for the emphatic finish.

While the Courage picked up the pressure after conceding the goal, Sky Blue and Sheridan withstood the home team’s late push for an equalizer.

North Carolina will get another chance to pick up points at home next Saturday when they host Seattle Reign FC at Sahlen’s Stadium. Sky Blue FC will surely enjoy some downtime this week, and return to New Jersey for July 8’s game against Seattle Reign FC.

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