“To be the premier women’s soccer league in the world, and the global standard by which women’s professional sports are measured.” This is the bold mission of the 2009 WPS league. Today, over six thousand football fans gathered at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, to celebrate the East Coast kickoff between NJ/NY Sky Blue FC and the Los Angeles Sol. “Today is an historic day for soccer and women’s sports in the New Jersey/New York area,” said Commissioner Tonya Antonucci. “Sky Blue FC are playing their inaugural match in Women’s Professional Soccer and have officially joined the professional sports landscape in a region known as one of the soccer hubs in America,” she said.
The 90-minute match put a defense-armed Sky Blue FC against the LA Sol amid exceptional defenders, keen goalies and seasoned coaches. After Christie Rampone retired from the game due to a pulled hamstring in the 27th minute, it wasn’t long before international, all-star forward Marta scored the first goal for LA in the 42nd. Ignited by the reverence of the play, just two minutes later, Han Duan setup a gratifying assist for Marta to score the shut-out goal for LA. “This was a lot faster game then the game against Washington,” said Marta, “it’s very gratifying for an athlete to travel and not be at your home stadium and just have a reception like this.” The ‘Marta vs. Sky Blue’ chant wars setup a dynamic and energy for an interesting rivalry, and an exciting indication for the 20-game season.
General Manager and Head Coach Ian Sawyers sought comfort in the fans dedication to the Home Team and the notion that this was game one. “It was a phenomenal. It was really neat to see people out there in the fun zone. Having them there and all the seats almost all full it was fantastic. I think they tried to get behind us as much as they could we just didn’t give them enough to help us get over the edge.”