Atlanta Beat Wins Its First Road Game, Shuts Out Sky Blue FC
Eniola Aluko got an early goal, and Hope Solo stopped all shots faced, and the Atlanta Beat notched its first road win on Sunday night, beating Sky Blue FC 1-0.
By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Jul 19, 2010 2:24:00 AM

A seventh-minute goal by Eniola Aluko was all the expansion Atlanta Beat needed to get its first road win in Women’s Professional Soccer. Hope Solo did the rest, saving all four shots that reigning champs Sky Blue FC put on frame to give the Beat a 1-0 win at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J., on Sunday night.

In the previous meeting, Sky Blue FC got the best of Atlanta, beating them 1-0 in the KSU Soccer Stadium opener. Sky Blue FC was outplayed by the Beat, but an own goal and 13 Karen Bardsley saves was enough to prevail on the road.

This time around, Atlanta came with the same offensive pressure, and they benefited from that pressure, early, with the Aluko goal.

“We played a very offensive style tonight and tried to play the ball to feet as much as possible,” said Beat coach Gareth O’Sullivan. “We tried to get forward and get in behind their back four.”

And Aluko did exactly that in the game’s lone goal. Aluko made a perfectly-timed run behind the Sky Blue FC (5-6-3, 18 points) defense, running onto an Angie Kerr through ball, and finishing with great precision past keeper Kristin Luckenbill.

Atlanta (2-7-4, 10 points) continued to put the pressure on for the duration of the first half, but couldn’t figure out a way to beat Luckenbill again, who made five saves on the night.

Despite the loss, Sky Blue FC saw the return of Tasha Kai, who took five shots on the night in her first game since the WPS All-Star Game.

“I always try to play with a lot of energy, and I know that rubs off on my teammates,” Kai said. “Unfortunately, we came up short tonight. We had our chances, but we have to do a better job of putting them away.”

Sky Blue FC came out in the second half of the game and brought the pressure to Atlanta, but Solo was up to the task. It has been a recurring theme for Sky Blue FC, playing in spurts. On Sunday, the defending champs started slow, and came on strong in the final 45 minutes. It wasn’t enough.

“It was truly a tale of two halves tonight,” said Sky Blue FC coach Pauliina Miettinen. “We had trouble getting it going in the first half, but we played with a lot of fire in the second half. What we have to do is get ourselves to play with that type of intensity for the full 90 minutes.”

Despite the loss, Sky Blue FC remains in third place in the WPS standings, three points behind Philadelphia and one point ahead of both Washington and Chicago; Atlanta remains in the WPS cellar, six points behind its nearest competitor, Boston.

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