This is the second home win for Houston and fifth over all in 2019, giving the team a hope after several home losses in the past. With the victory, the Dash still are in contention to make the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs — Houston has never reached the postseason.
“The travel and the games we’ve had over the last week as well as the effort, the commitment and the desire the players have shown tonight is fantastic,” Dash head coach James Clarkson said. “That’s our thing at the moment. If we play with that sort of determination and effort, we’ll put points up against anybody. Some of the games recently, it’s been missing, but Washington away and now here, it was superb.”
The Dash (5-6-4, 19 points) started off the night looking for a goal in the early minutes against Sky Blue. In the second minute of the game, Dash forward Rachel Daly took a shoot and hit the left post, letting the opposition know what she was after.
Ten minutes later, Daly took a shot that was stopped by Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. The rebound found Dash midfielder Sofia Huerta, who hit the crossbar with her shot.
“At least we are creating the chances,” Clarkson said. “The players are aware of it. We’re all aware of it. I’d be more frustrated if we weren’t creating the chances. They are going to come. I keep saying this. I’ve said it all season at some stage: One game, we are going to score five or six goals. We’ve got it in us as long as we keep creating the chances. It’s going to come.”
The visiting team also looked to open up the scoreboard. Sky Blue star forward Carli Lloyd was unable to capitalize on at least two good chances.
The Dash had no problem breaking through Sky Blue’s backline, but the finishing touch was missing until the 22nd minute. Daly blasted a right-footer to the far post to put Houston in the lead.
“I think if I’m working hard up top, I think everybody else behind me sees that and wants to work hard with me,” Daly said. “I think it’s really important to bring that, and I think the whole team tonight brought that.”
Although Sky Blue (2-10-2, 8 points) held 52% possession, they did not take any shots on target. The visiting team had a difficult time breaking the Dash defense that tightened up after Daly’s goal.
The second half, both teams came out with the same mentality of playing with patience and making smarter plays to create better scoring opportunities.
“I thought that we did a good job collectively to keep them off the board,” Dash midfielder Haley Hanson said. “We went up fairly early and got the first goal. That’s what we wanted to do. To hold them for that long was really big for us.”
In the 78th minute, Dash defender Kristie Mewis was close to making it a 2-0 game, hitting the post with her header. Minutes later, Huerta ran down the field and ripped a shot that hit the side net, once again leaving Houston without a goal celebration.
The final score did not reflect the Dash’s dominance. It was enough to keep Houston within two points of the fourth-place Washington Spirit and the NWSL’s final playoff spot.
“We needed a win,” Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell said. “That was that. Shutouts are great, but now we’re just looking forward to the next one. I’m very happy we got three points — that’s what we came here to do.”
The Dash play a second consecutive home game this Friday against Reign FC.