Houston — The Houston Dash fell hard, 4-1 against an overpowering North Carolina Courage for their first loss of the season.
The Dash showed composure and organization during the first half of the game and seemed almost even when faced with a penalty kick in the 30th minute. Defender Satara Murray is a tough player and her physical style keeps rivals from getting close to the net, but on this occasion, Murray went in a little too hard and fouled North Carolina’s Lynn Williams in the box.
Williams kicked to the left and Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell had no problem blocking the shot, keeping her flawless PK record intact.
For a third consecutive game, the Dash conceded a penalty kick — and for the third consecutive time the attempt did not make it into the net. Two of the penalties have been blocked by Campbell, who has shown so much confidence guarding her net.
“It’s a tough call. I didn’t see the replay, so I don’t know if it actually was [a penalty], but it was called. I’m not a fan of this trend that we’ve got going on, but it’s part of the job, and at the end of the day when the whistle blows, I have to be ready for it,” Campbell said. “I kind of just take a deep breath and step in there and hope for the best. Again, thankfully, the ball went my way. Lynn is a phenomenal player, and I know she’ll knock it home every time. So, again, I’m thankful that I went the right way and made the save.”
In the 41st minute, Dash midfielder Rachel Daly tried to chip the ball into North Carolina’s goal, but received an offside call. It was one of the few close shots the local team had in the first half.
Williams scored the opening goal for the Courage before the end of the first half, during a miscommunication between Dash teammates Amber Brooks and Campbell. The second goal came in the 60th minute, when Courage player Jaelene Hinkle created a pass for Crystal Dunn, who sent the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead.
A couple of minutes later, Campbell once more blocked a cross-shot from Hinkle, but the ball landed right into Carolina forward Debinha, who was completely unmarked, took the shot and gave her team a third goal.
In the 76th minute, Courage rookie Leah Pruitt comfortably snuck by the Dash defense and headed the ball for a 4-0 lead.
Although the Dash were obviously overpowered by the Courage, they continued to push for a goal late in the game. It finally came in the 86th minute. Dash forward Rachel Daly managed her way through defenders and with a left foot sent the ball into the back corner of the net to prevent a shutout.
Daly told Dash coach James Clarkson that she didn’t think the result was a true reflection of how the team played,
“Looking at the scoreline, being 4-0 down toward the end of the game, it’s very disappointing,” Daly said. “Keeping them at bay for the first half, [then] conceding at the end of the first half is very disappointing. I don’t think by any means we played our best, but we have to put that to bed and the focus starts tomorrow all over.”
The Dash now play two consecutive home games and have to analyze what was done well and what needs to be changed in order to add up points and not make the same mistakes again. Up next are the Orlando Pride at 5:00 p.m. CT Sunday.
“Yeah, a little disappointed in the result, but they are the best team in the league, so it was a great learning opportunity for us,” Clarkson said of the Courage. “I can’t fault the players’ effort. I thought all of our players were 100 percent committed, worked really hard, and if you can maintain those levels throughout the season, I think we will be successful. We’ll go away and study the game. We’ll strive to get better.”