Karen Bardsley: Unbelievable as Sky Blue FC Defeats Atlanta

Lauren Green@lgreenWPSoccerCorrespondent IMay 10, 2010

Kennesaw, Ga. (Sunday, May 9, 2010) – Sky Blue FC spoiled the Atlanta Beat’s home opener as the visiting side was able to hang on afteran Atlanta own goal in the 50th minute put them on top 1-0. 

The visitors got some stellar goalkeeping from Karen Bardsley, who made 13 saves in the win.

The home side had the first opportunity to take an early lead as Ramona Bachmann took a through ball in on Bardsley, but her first touch bounced a little bit ahead of her and her shot sailed high. 

That opportunity began the onslaught of chances the Beat had during the first half.  Bardsley was forced to make several stops, including a diving save on a long range blast from Beat midfielder Mami Yamaguchi.

Sky Blue FC found their offensive rhythm ten minutes later and had their first opportunity to take the lead in the 24th minute. 

Heather O’Reilly beat her defender one-on-one on the end line and sent a cross back for Kiersten Dallstream. Dallstream settled the ball before taking a shot but it was deflected out for a corner kick. 

The ensuing corner kick, taken by midfielder Yael Averbuch, almost snuck in on the near post, but Atlanta goalkeeper Brett Maron was able to get a hand on it to punch it out of danger.

Three minutes later, Jessica Landstrom found O’Reilly on the back post, but Maron came out and deflected it for another corner kick. 

Averbuch’s kick almost found the back of the net for a second time, but clanged off the crossbar.  O’Reilly found Dallstream minutes later and slipped a ball through the Beat defense, but Dallstream wasn’t able to get a foot on it before Maron came out and grabbed the ball.

Atlanta had a great chance to take the lead just before halftime as Ramona Bachmann again found herself in on Bardsley but she hooked her shot just wide of the goal in the 38 th minute.

Atlanta continued right where they left off as the second half began. Midfielder McCall Zerboni unleashed a shot from 18 yards out that Bardsley managed to punch wide of the goal.

"Karen was absolutely unbelievable tonight," Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen said. "She made so many amazing saves and really kept us in the match. As a team, it gives you a huge confidence boost when you know that you will get such a high level of play by your goalkeeper."

A miscommunication in the Atlanta area cost them the game-winning goal only a minute later.

Laura Kalmari played a cross into the center of the box from the right flank and Robinson headed it back, in an attempt to pass it back to her keeper.  Maron was already off her line though as she came up to challenge a potential shot and the ball looped past her.

Atlanta continued to press in their efforts to get the equalizer but Bardsley stood firm between the posts, continuously frustrating the home side.  Ramona Bachmann had several outstanding chances on her own in the 62nd and 82nd minutes but in both cases, Bardsley was there to preserve the one goal lead.

The Beat had one final opportunity to tie the game in the latter stages of stoppage time as Bachmann had once again gotten free but her shot was punched over the bar by Bardsley.

“One of my biggest goals is to stay focused for 90 minutes,” Bardsley stated. “Atlanta was really coming at us in the second half, and I knew that I would have to keep the switch turned on. Road wins are critical, and it’s huge for you as a team when you can pick up three points on the road.”

Sky Blue FC will look to continue winning on the road as they take on the St. Louis Athletica on Sunday, May 16 at 4PM ET in St. Louis.  They will return to Yurcak Field on Saturday, May 29 when they take on the Boston Breakers at 7PM ET.  Please visit www.womensprosoccer.com/ny or call 1-888-SBFC-TIX to purchase tickets.

Photo by Michael Pimentel - ISI Photos


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