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Utah Royals FC get first franchise road win vs Sky Blue FC

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It wasn’t pretty, though, but Royals win!

Trask Smith

We all knew this would be a game of adjustments for Utah Royals FC with Abby Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Amy Rodriguez missing this game due to U.S. Women’s National Team duty, and adjustments there were.

Nicole Barnhart made her first start for the 2018 season, making her 109th NWSL appearance. Taylor Lytle also made her first start, playing against her former club where she spent five seasons with Sky Blue FC. Rookie E.J. Proctor and Alexa Newfield made the 18, first time dressing up for the club.

Any doubts or concerns about the Royals underperforming without three of their key players were erased in the third minute when a goal by Diana Matheson gave the Royals the early lead. It all started in the midfield when Gunny Jónsdóttir intercepted a pass and gave the ball to Lytle. Then, Lytle found Gunny on the run. Gunny made a run up the flank before crossing to Matheson, who slid in for the goal.

The lead would not last as Sky Blue FC equalized in the 10th minute after Shea Groom scored from a Katie Johnson pass. Despite the chances the rest of the second half to take the lead again, the score remained 1-1 at halftime.

The teams returned to the second half deadlocked at 1-1, and it was Sky Blue with much of the chances in the final third. Harvey made a couple of changes to help the attack, bringing in Lo’eau LaBonta for Taylor Lytle in the 66th minute and Elise Thorsnes for Katrina Gorry in the 75th minute. Still, the Royals appeared to struggle to create chances.

The Royals caught a break, however, in the 85th minute due to a Sky Blue FC own goal as Katie Stengel pressured Sky Blue defender Mandy Freeman, who was facing her own goal. As Freeman tried to intercept the pass from Gunny, she scored for the Royals.

Utah Royals FC would go on to win their third game of the season and first franchise road win, improving to 3‑2‑5 for the year.