The first Houston Dash practice ever was held today. It was a beautiful day for soccer at Houston Sporting Park.
Only two nights before, the Houston Dash had joined the Dynamo on the pitch in their first look at the BBVA crowd. Now, they stood ready to work as a team to earn their own fans.
30 women, clad in the new Dash training kit, lined the end of one pitch. Players on the roster included Brittany Bock, Marissa Diggs, Bianca Henninger, Ella Masar, Teresa Noyola, Stephanie Ochs, Kealia Ohai and Nikki Washington, among others. The remainder of the pitch was occupied by trialists, still fighting for their place on the roster. Aya Sameshima, while present, did not participate in training. The Japanese national player could be seen on the side line stretching and recuperating from an injury received during international training camp. Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg and Erin McLeod were tending to national team duties and were not present.
The Dash warmed up with the beep test. For those of you unfamiliar with such training, a player must run a set distance between a series of beeps. The sound acts as an indicator when to run and players must arrive at the finish line before the next beep sounds. After nearly twenty minutes of the beep test, the girls moved on to ball control, scrimmaging, and shooting.
Dash players looked lively in scrimmaging. Play was limited to half the pitch and touches restricted to a set number. The forwards shone, harassing a defense that struggled to clear the ball. Communication was a strong point of the practice and players encouraged their teammates on.
During shooting, midfielder Teresa Noyola knocked an effortless goal in and Diggs put her team on the map with a scorching header. Ella Masar, bearing the only dirty jersey on the pitch, proved her athletic prowess with an attempted bicycle kick, but could not place the ball in the net.
Possible things to consider for roster moves are Lauren Sesselmann’s recent injury and the four trial keepers rotating during shooting drills. The roster already supports keepers McLeod and Bianca Henninger. Could they be looking to add another?
As practice wound down, the players huddled up and I had the distinct pleasure of hearing "Go Dash!" for the first time. The first of many, I hope!