Sky Blue FC was unable to capitalize on enticing chances in each half and needed a couple of key saves from Kailen Sheridan to open their NWSL Challenge Cup campaign with a scoreless draw Tuesday night.
In a battle of coaches making their team debuts — Freya Coombe for Sky Blue FC and Farid Benstiti for Ol Reign FC — both teams were content to settle for a slower paced defensive battle at the start with a few scattered chances. Some lovely combination play did nearly put Sky Blue in front late in the first half when Sabrina Flores connected with Nahomi Kawasumi but Reign defender Lauren Barnes was able to recovery in time to block the shot attempt.
Allie Long tested Sheridan right after the halftime break with a headed ball off a cross and Kawasumi was able to find substitute Elizabeth Eddy at the penalty spot in the 70th minute. but her shot went directly at Reign goalkeeper Casey Murphy.
The biggest chance for either team came when Jasmyn Spencer was able to break through the Sky Blue back line in the 85th minute but Sheridan’s diving save to her right denied Spencer the late winner and secured the first shutout and draw so far in the competition.
Up next, Sky Blue FC take on the host Utah Royals FC on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., which played to a draw earlier Tuesday in a six-goal affair with the Houston Dash.