Editor’s Note: Entering last week, the Houston Dash found themselves on the outside of the top four teams in the National Women’s Soccer League. While the Dash were not mathematically eliminated from the postseason, they needed to win all four of their remaining regular season games to keep their playoff hopes alive. The following article is a recap of the team’s clutch 2-1 victory over the Utah Royals FC before dropping a key match to the top-seeded North Carolina Courage 1-0.
Sofia Huerta led the Dash with two goals and delivered the Royals their first loss after their undefeated streak. The Dash struggled in the first half of the game but came back with an extraordinary performance.
“We haven’t played consistently like that all season,” head coach James Clarkson said. “If we had done that, we’d be in a much stronger position.”
The team played well as a unit, but certain individual players cannot go unnoticed. Allysha Chapman and Sophie Schmidt shut down Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez. Chapman demonstrated an ability to pressure high and integrate herself in the Dash’s counter attacks. She was a key player that accepted her role and delivered results.
After the game, Schmidt revealed that Clarkson had given her specific instructions.
“Do everything,” Schmidt said. “I think tactically I had a lot of responsibility organizing the people in front of me— making sure we denied them that space in front of our back line.”
The players were in sync and the Dash outshot the Royals 6-5 in the first half. Huerta’s brace allowed the Dash to retain a much deserved three points. She broke through the Royals’ backline and finished with two goals.
Royals captain Becky Sauerbrunn did as much as she could to stop the trio of Huerta, Rachel Daly and Kristie Mewis. Utah had a great start to the game but ended sloppy and committed various defensive mistakes that led to their defeat. Although they seemed to be unorganized, the Royals managed to scrap up a goal late in the second half.
A scattered Dash managed to kick the ball towards the sideline only to have it come right back and be finished off by Gunnhildur Jonsdottir.
Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell made three important saves that preserved the win. In the end, the team was excited about the results and its ability to leave everything on the field.
“I’m happy,” Clarkson said. “I’m happy for the players. I think you’ve seen what the Dash are really about.”
The Dash’s next game is Sept. 21 on the road in Oregon at 9:30 p.m. against the Portland Thorns FC.