Utah Royals FC returned to the RioT after hosting Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday where they earned another point in a 0-0 draw. This time, against Sky Blue FC, head coach Laura Harvey switched the starting lineup, as regular starters Diana Matheson, Amy Rodriguez, and Rachel Corsie were on the bench, allowing Katie Stengel, Erika Tymrak, and Samantha Johnson to start instead. Christen Press made her second consecutive start as a Utah Royal. Johnson made her first start since being traded to Utah from Chicago on June 18.
The change in starters did not affect the style of play. It actually improved it, and it may have been that they were playing a team that has yet to win this season, but in less than ten minutes after kickoff, Utah was on the board in the 7th minute when Christen Press scored her first goal in a Utah uniform.
Katrina Gorry sent a pass into the box for Gunny Jónsdóttir, but Gunny was unable to connect. Press, however, was also making a run and capitalized on the loose ball for the goal.
In the 25th minute, Utah doubled their lead when Press found Katie Stengel making a run past the Sky Blue FC backline. Stengel, with a one touch, beat Sky Blue goalkeeper Kaelin Sheridan.
Stengel was not done as she scored her second goal of the night as a result of a set piece. Gorry’s service to the box found Stengel, who headed it in for the goal. In just 30 minutes, Utah Royals FC had taken a comfortable 3-0 lead against Sky Blue. With the brace, Stengel became Utah’s leading scorer for the season with three goals.
Sky Blue FC scored a goal of their own in the 62nd minute, but the Royals had the lead necessary to record their fifth win of the season on a 3-1 victory, improving to 5‑3‑6 and back to fourth place.
Utah had 11 shots, 5 on goal and dominated 60% of possession with 80.3% passing accuracy. The Royals, in just two games since acquiring Press, have improved their offense and look like a team ready to challenge for a playoff spot as the second half of the season gets more competitive.