The North Carolina pressure proved too much for the Dash to handle
By Edson J. Ochoa
Houston, Tx – The Houston Dash were on the right path in the first two weeks of NWSL action. They drew Seattle Reign at 1-1 and defeated Sky Blue FC 1-0 in New Jersey.
Tonight, they would host the reigning NWSL champions North Carolina Courage who came into this match with a 5-0 win over Orlando Pride.
The first few minutes started really well for the Houston Dash, who were able to maintain some possession and looking to attack Stephanie Labbé‘s goal.
However, as the game wore on, the Courage began to exert a high pressure defense which caused the Dash to lose possession of the ball quickly.
Then in the 30th minute, Satara Murray trips Jessica McDonald inside the box and the referee did not hesitate to call the penalty kick.
The ensuing penalty kick was executed by Lynn Williams, but the shot was too weak to trouble Jane Campbell, who easily scooped up the shot.
Right before the whistle, Lynn Williams found her redemption to give the Courage the go ahead goal.
Abby Dahlkemper sends a cross that finds the head of Jaelene Hinkle. Her header is deflected by Amber Brooks, who due to a miscommunication with Jane Campbell, allowed Williams to tap the ball into the net.
In the second half, James Clarkson looked to make some changes looking to break apart the pressure from the Courage, but the Dash were unsuccessful in doing so.
I was disappointed in our ability to keep the ball. We spoke of that at half time and it ultimately ended up putting us under pressure. We knew that they liked to press. They were going to press us when we had it, but I told the players we have to do continue to do it. We have to work at it and be brave to want to get on the ball. We got the ball under pressure, and there were times in the second half I thought we did a much better job at it.James Clarkson – Houston Dash coach
In the 60th minute, the Courage found their second goal of the night. Crystal Dunn sends a cross into the box that goes over Jane Campbell and finds its way into the net.
The Dash continued to struggle to contain the Courage attack. Nine minutes later, the Courage would find another goal, this time by Debinha.
Jaelene Hinkle receives the ball out wide and dribbles past Satara Murray and dribbles into the box near the end line. Her cross is parried away by Jane Campbell, but the rebound lands to the feet of an unmarked Debinha who fires a rocket impossible for Campbell to reach.
With this goal, Debinha would score the team’s 100th goal in their history.
Not content with three goals, the Courage found a fourth goal in the 76th minute.
Lynn Williams dribbles the ball towards the right side of the field and sends a cross into the box. Leah Pruitt evades the marking of Satara Murray and heads the ball in the 6 yard box leaving Jane Campbell helpless.
Rachel Daly found the back of the net for the first time this season in the 86th minute thanks to a spectacular curler from outside the box, but it was found too late to help the Dash recover.
I think it’s been a long time coming for me. The last couple games, I’ve had a few chances. I’ve been close on goal, keepers have made very good saves. I’ve made some poor decisions. I’ve been playing well, and it’s a boost of confidence, but it’s a shame it doesn’t count so much for the team. Good for me to get on the score sheet.”Rachel Daly – Houston Dash forward
In the end, the Dash fell at home 4-1 against one of the top teams of the NWSL. Jane Campbell noted that this game would be a test for the team to see their true level.
I think coming into the game, it’s no secret that North Carolina is one of the best teams in the world and we knew it was going to be a tough challenge. Going into it, our game plan was to be gritty, be tough, and kind of shove the Houston environment back at them. Honestly, the first half, I thought we did really well. It’s unfortunate that we gave up the goal right before halftime, and Rachel (Daly) was called offside on that one, and a couple things happened that didn’t bounce our way in the first half. The second half, that’s just North Carolina. They push through, and they’re fit as ever. It’s a good stepping stone for us, it’s a good learning game.Jane Campbell – Houston Dash goalkeeper
With this result, the Houston Dash remain in 5th place in the NWSL. They host Orlando Pride next Sunday at 5:00pm.
Photo credit: Houston Dash