A feisty Western New York Flash stepped onto their home pitch Saturday night without head coach Paul Riley. Instead it was assistant coach Scott Vallow who took the helm while Riley served his one game suspension for “inappropriate conduct” aimed at officials after their tight 1-0 loss to Orlando.
The Flash were also missing center-back Abby Erceg, serving her one game suspension after being sent off by a controversial yellow late in that same game. However, the Flash would still come up big, dominating the visiting team 5-2 and edging themselves into the top half of the standings.
Leading the league in shots on goal while scoring an average of less than one per game, the Flash spent last week working with their forwards on finishing. Their work paid off in the 6th when Jessica McDonald made a massive leap to get her head on a corner sent in by defender Jaelene Hinkle. This was the first goal of the season for McDonald, as well as the first time Western New York scored before half in the 2016 campaign.
Sky Blue FC keeper Caroline Stanley would be tested again as the Flash made several runs at the back-line. With only a smattering of runs in return, WNY pelted the Jersey defense. Earning a free kick in the 19th minute the Flash sent a ball into the box that Sky Blue mishandled, giving it to WNY’s Samantha Mewis who was ready to pounce. With a strong header Mewis sent it past Stanley for their second goal of the night. Two set pieces and two goals produced for the Flash.
Sky Blue head coach Christy Holly was ready to make a rare first half substitute to halt the onslaught, however before his side could make the change, the Flash were at it again. Forward Makenzy Doniak made a run on the right side beating Sky Blue defender Erin Simon, sending the ball center where fellow forward Lynn Williams put it in for the Flash’s third. Sky Blue was not about to give up though.
In need of a counter attack, SBFC managed to maintain some control in the mid with Kelly O’Hara providing sparks to a flat Sky Blue offense. Nikki Stanton did her part for the Jersey defense chasing a charging Williams down to prevent her from getting off another shot. With a long ball in the 46th WNY’s corner was initially blocked by Stanley but wasn’t cleared and a second shot went off the crossbar. McDonald was there to play cleanup, sending it back of the net off the rebound to put the Flash ahead 4-0 just before half.
The second half fared slightly better for Sky Blue with half-time substitute Leah Galton adding needed speed up front. With a hard, late tackle on Mewis the first yellow of the night was earned by Sky Blue’s Kelly Conheeney, but the first goal of the second half would also go to Sky Blue. Galton took advantage of a poor pass, laying it off to O’Hara who took a perfect touch setting up the ball and sending a stinger screaming past D’Angelo for Sky Blue’s first goal of the night.
The second yellow of the night went to WNY’s Elizabeth Eddy in the 57th minute for a hard challenge on O’Hara. Despite the score, O’Hara remained a threat throughout the match. However, WNY was not done scoring. In her second assist of the night Hinkle sent a ball forward to Michaela Hahn in the 60th who put it past Stanley for her first ever professional goal.
A game of end to end soccer, attacks and counter attacks came from both sides with barely a break as both teams pressed for another goal. In the 84th Kelly O’Hara once again proved to be an integral part of the offense, drawing a foul in the box for a Sky Blue penalty. Sarah Killion would step to the spot sending it to the back of the net for her first professional goal.
Neither team took off the gas, with McDonald breaking through again late into stoppage, but all the goals of the evening had been scored. With the 5-2 win, WNY tied their single game record for most goals in a game.
Next up, the Flash will face the Breakers this Friday at Sahlen’s stadium. It will be their second in a long stretch of home games. Boston, currently standing last in the league, looks for their first win of the season. Kick-off is at 7pm ET.