By: Madeline Lorange
Sky Blue FC will face off against OL Reign on June 30 at 10 pm ET in a preliminary match of the NWSL Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret. This will mark the first of four preliminary round games for Sky Blue in the tournament. This game is presented to Sky Blue FC fans courtesy of Hackensack Meridian Health.
The match will be streamed on CBS All Access, along with all other Sky Blue Challenge Cup preliminary round games. International fans can stream the game live on Twitch. CBS All Access will also upload recorded games after they initially air.
Sky Blue enters the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup as the first competition under first-year Head Coach Freya Coombe, who brings a newly organized roster including the signing of accomplished veterans McCall Zerboni, Ifeoma Onumonu, and Midge Purce. These players join a pair of young budding stars in Imani Dorsey and Paige Monaghan who each scored two goals for the Club in 2019. The Club also added two highly-touted rookies in the first round of the 2020 NWSL Draft. NCAA Division I All Time Field Player Minutes record holder and lockdown defender Kaleigh Riehl was drafted out of Penn State, while forward Evelyne Viens was a prolific scorer at the University of South Florida.
“Our team feels good and we look good,” said Purce. “We’re super excited to play and we are ready. It’s good vibes at Sky Blue!”
The squad is relatively young, featuring 12 players aged 25 or younger, who aim to make an immediate impact and will look to the veteran leaders on the team. Returning as the team captain is six-year veteran Sarah Woldmoe (Killion). Woldmoe has been a stalwart for Sky Blue playing all five years of her career with the Club. Entering her fourth year with the club, Kailen Sheridan will look to build on an impressive 2019 season. She finished the year with 86 total saves after missing a handful of games due to competing at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with Canada. Sheridan finished 2019 with a 1.32 Goals Allowed Against record earning her a 2019 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year nomination.
“It’s great to be here (at the Challenge Cup) and the team is feeling great,” said Woldmoe. “This group really stands out and is a breath of fresh air. There’s some new talent and perspectives coming in and we are working really well together on the field. Freya allows us to be ourselves and be creative on ball. She implements a style of play about possession and moving the ball. We’re playing to our strengths and everyone is coming in with a lot of confidence in themselves and in the group.”
Along with new players added to the roster, the coaching staff will be joined by former professional player turned Assistant Coach, Becca Moros. The Challenge Cup marks Coombe’s debut as the official Head Coach after serving as the club’s Interim Head Coach during the final leg of the 2019 NWSL season.
Since the 2019 season, newly named OL Reign (formerly “Reign FC”) has made some roster and personnel moves including signing defender Alana Cook on loan for the Challenge Cup. Cook plays for PSG in the French Division 1 Feminine, but due to the cancellation of their season, she will be on loan to OL Reign for the tournament.
U.S. Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe will forgo the Challenge Cup tournament. This marks a major loss to the OL Reign roster, but forwards Jodie Taylor and Bethany Balcer combined for 11 goals last season and will look to lead the team again this season.
The club brought in former Paris Saint Germaine Head Coach Farid Benstiti, to replace Vlatko Andonovski, who moved on to take the helm of the U.S. Women’s National Team. This will be his first season as a NWSL Head Coach.
Sky Blue FC vs OL Reign on Rewind
Sky Blue FC last faced off against OL Reign on Sept. 21 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash. Sky Blue secured a 1-0 victory on the road thanks to a late goal from Carli Lloyd, assisted by Nahomi Kawasumi. The two squads ended 2019 on a complete tie after going 1-1-1 during the season.