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Philadelphia Independence 4 – 3 Sky Blue FC

Tasha Kai scored a hat trick against her former team and Laura Del Rio scored a 78th minute winner with her first touch of the game as the Independence twice came from behind to knock off New Jersey based Sky Blue FC. The win moves Philadelphia to the top of the WPS table for the first time in team history.

In a frantic first half, Kai opened the scoring on only 3 minutes, only to see Sky Blue score twice in quick succession in the 16th minute and 20th minute. Kai would grab one back on 29 minutes, before Kendall Fletcher would put Sky Blue up 3-2 at the half with a 38th minute goal.

The Independence started on the right foot when Danesha Adams chipped a ball into the box for Kai in the 3rd minute, and her strike partner did the rest, bringing the ball down with a lovely first touch on her chest and finishing into the far post beyond Jenni Branam.

The lead would only last 13 minutes as a miscue from left back Leigh Ann Robinson would gift Sky Blue the equalizer. Sinead Farrelly was whistled and booked for what appeared to be a clean tackle 40 yards from the Independence goal. A chipped ball into the box looked to be heading straight for the arms of goalkeeper Val Henderson when Robinson attempted a header back to her, only to see the ball go over Henderson’s head and roll into the net. It was an unusual miscue in a defense that has only let in one goal in its previous four games.

Sky Blue would take the lead with a well worked goal on 20 minutes. Some good midfield play saw the ball eventually reach  Jennie Clark advancing up the wing from her left back position. She threw in a brilliant cross that Alyssa Mautz made no mistake in heading past Henderson, who got a hand to the shot but could not keep it out.

Kai would bring Philadelphia level again with an absolutely sublime 15 yard header on 29 minutes. Sinead Farrelly, playing probably her best game all season, got on the ball on the right wing and beat three Sky Blue defenders before swinging in a cross. Kai rose highest and looped her header over the stranded Branam. The goal was no more than Philadelphia deserved after dominating possession for the 10 minutes after the second Sky Blue goal.

But Sky Blue would take the lead once more 7 minutes before the half. After Henderson made a terrific save to deny Mautz again, Kendall Jackson was left unmarked in the six yard box and headed in the ensuing corner. A decent header from the defender, but there was clearly a blown mark somewhere on the play.

Philadelphia came out of the break fired up, from what was surely a stern half time talk from coach Paul Riley. Kai completed her hat trick on 57 minutes after a beautiful through ball from Veronica Boquete saw the striker in on goal from 20 yards. Kai made no mistake, finishing short side past Branam.

Philadelphia then went to work trying to find the winner. Substitutes Homfridur Magnusdottir and Lianne Sanderson both had good chances saved by Branam before del Rio finally pounced for the winner. Sky Blue failed to properly clear a corner kick and the ball bounced around in the box before del Rio, with her first touch after replacing Kai, found the ball and slotted a cool finish low into Branam’s net.

Coming off of some of their best defensive performances of the season, Philadelphia looked shaky throughout the first half. You have to believe some players might have been looking ahead to the weekend’s match with now second placed Western New York. Or that they were still feeling the effects of their 5 day World Cup break from last week. But the resilience can be a take away from this match for the Independence and they will look to increase their lead at the top against New York on Saturday.

Player Ratings

Val Henderson – 6

Not at fault on the on goal. Probably couldn’t have done much more with the well worked second goal. But a free header from a corner kick from inside the 6 yard box? The keeper should have come for that one.

Estelle Johnson – 7

Nothing flashy from the right back, but solid defender for most of the evening.

Nikki Krzysik – 6

The captain and defensive organizer was not at her best in the first half. The marking was off, opposition players found too much space coming forward, and she failed to make controlled passes out of the back. Much better in the second half though, where Sky Blue failed to make many chances.

Kia McNeill – 6

Sub par game from the other central back. Was disorganized in the first half along with Krzysik. But better in the second half.

Leigh Ann Robinson – 4

Terrible own goal keeps her score pretty low. Overlaps down the wing at good times, but does not find the service she needs to.

Jen Buzkowski – 7

Not the perfection we are using to seeing from the defensive midfielder, but still a decent outing. Did especially well in the second half in linking the defense to Boquete and the strikers.

Christina DiMartino – 6

An off night for the usually crafty winger. Had trouble getting on the ball and failed to create chances for her strikers with her passing.

Sinead Farrelly – 9

Farrelly’s best game of the season saw the Havertown native taking on defenders with confidence, serving good balls into the box (see Kai’s second goal) and all the while keeping the dangerous Allie Long in check.

Veronica Boquete – 8

The most creative player on the pitch for either team. Crafty on the ball all night and found inventive passes constantly. Even chipped in on defense late in the game with three strikers already on the pitch.

Tasha Kai – 9

Played like a player that wanted nothing more than to score against her former team, and did just that with three well taken goals. Women of the match for sure.

Danesha Adams – 5

Outside of a terrific cross for Kai’s first goal, a very quiet night for the striker who had been in good form before this match. She seems to thrive on confidence, and after a few early plays didn’t go her way, looked out of the match.


Holmfridur Magnusdottir – 8

Has looked more threatening every match since losing her starting role at outside back. Helps that she is playing her more natural position in the offense. Was dangerous attacking down the right flank and was unlucky not to score.

Lianne Sanderson – 7

Came on with fresh legs and ran at the Sky Blue back line. Had a shot well saved by Branam just before the game winner.

Laura del Rio – 8

Can’t argue with her first goal of the season being her first touch of the game.


One Comment

  1. Bang on with all the ratings. Farrelly did everything but score.

    Boquete had her way with everyone in the middle of the park, class stuff from the tiny Spaniard.

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