HOUSTON – The Houston Dash won’t make the NWSL playoffs this season, but hoped to give their home fans a win Wednesday night in the final game of the season at BBVA Stadium.
But the Dash couldn’t find the back of the net and neither could the visiting Washington Spirit. The two sides played to a scoreless draw in front of an announced crowd of 5,247 fans.
“I think its story of our season really,” Dash head coach James Clarkson said. “I think it’s a good solid performance on the back of four or five really competitive games in a really short period of time. It’s unfortunate, where we’ve had our chances to win the game. Jane’s made a couple of really good saves to keep it obviously tied.”
During the first minutes of the game, it seemed like the Spirit (7-8-6, 27 points) had scored, but the goal was waved off due to a handball in the box.
Dash winger Sofia Huerta has not had a consistent season, but showed her potential in the first 10 minutes against Washington, firing a dangerous shot, but it went just over the bar.
Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell has been instrumental for her team this season, stopping several penalty kicks and shots on-frame. She made one of her three crucial saves of the night in the 15th minute, and kept a clean sheet for the Dash (7-11-5, 26 points) despite facing 13 shots.
“You know, I said it all year, we keep creating the chances with just a little bit more composure, I think a little bit more quality in and around that final third and we’d even create more chances,” Campbell said. “I think we got ourselves into some really good spots today and just couldn’t get the final pass or the finish.”
During the first minutes of the second half, both clubs seamed drained and even walked on occasion during the downtime. The humidity was 71 percent in Houston, a bit higher than what the players are accustomed to.
In the 56th-minute, things were looking up for the Dash as they came very close to scoring on a corner kick. Changes were made on both teams lines up and that seemed to help both squads try to find a goal finish play.
“It is good to look over the bench and see these players coming on and learning and getting better for next year,” Campbell said. “It is better, it is getting better and better. That’s all I can really say.”
There was an injection of emotion in the 74th minute when Kristie Mewis took a strong shot outside the box. The shot appeared to be on its way into the back of the net, but it bounced off the crossbar. Rachel Daly tried to slot the ball in the off the rebound, but she was called offsides. Washington keeper Aubrey Bledsoe stopped her shot anyway.
The Dash out-shot the Spirit 14-13, put 29 crosses into the box and completed 80 percent of their passes. Still, it wasn’t enough to get past the Spirit defense. Possession was about even, with Washington controlling 51 percent.
“Thank you to all the fans that came out this year. All the fans that watched online or on TV. Your support doesn’t go unnoticed,” Mewis said. “We’re going to need you guys for the long haul. I know that it hasn’t been the success that everybody wants since the Dash started. But I think you guys need to ride this wave because I think it will be exciting.”
Houston will finish its season on Oct. 12, facing-off against the Utah Royals on the road.
As for the fifth-place Spirit, they will host North Carolina Courage on Saturday in hopes of getting some points to aide their fight for a playoff spot that seems to be slipping away.