Dash top Texas A&M
The Houston Dash scrimmaged Texas A&M at Houston Sports Park on Saturday. The game gave fans both the opportunity to see the women in action and to receive the first Season Ticket Holder perks of the preseason. Over 400 Dash season ticket holders gathered in the roped off section of the field to do just that.
Fans did not have to wait long. Kealia Ohai scored eight minutes into the game. Momentum was on the Dash side as the forward struck again minutes later, landing a strike over Aggies’ goalkeeper Renée McDermott. Unfortunately, due to a foul to keeper Renée McDermott, the goal was disallowed. The blow that McDermott received during the play rendered her unable to continue in the game. Trainers removed her on a stretcher.
The Aggies rallied after the loss of their keeper. Despite several more Dash attempts on goal, the score would remain at 1-0 Dash for the remainder of the game. Veteran forward Ella Masar had several shots on goal, including a scorcher that was barely deflected in the first half.
The Dash conceded far fewer corner kicks than the Aggies. Nikki Washington took the numerous corners earned throughout the game, delivering from either side of the field.
During the second half, Aggie offense intensified. Several attacks on goal forced keeper Bianca Henninger to intervene. The only real danger presented itself when Aggie forward Annie Kunz shook loose from left back Marissa Diggs to break towards the goal. Fortunately, the cross she made afterwards fell right to Dash feet and was harmlessly cleared. Another hairy moment took place late in the game when a shot skittered across the face of the goal.
Of note were the offensive stabs by the Dash late in the game and Masar’s departure. Teresa Noyola had a promising attempt on goal, a bicycle kick that drew an appreciative gasp from the crowd of fans. Also, Ella Masar left the game early after an attempt at a header connected with another player. She was able to walk off the field, which is a good sign when it comes to head injuries.
The roster for the game featured a selection of signed players and trialists. 25 players adorned the preseason roster, with only 20 final slots available. Brian Ching, speaking during half time, conceded that injuries of certain international players have forced the Dash to consider their options carefully. Lauren Sesselmann, injured during international play, will likely be unavailable for the entire 2014 season. Aya Sameshima, too, is recuperating from her injury. Sameshima has gone back to Japan to allow her meniscus to heal. With two players on the mend and two players remaining with club Tyreso in Europe for at least a good portion of the season, this is a potential cause for the nine remaining trialists to hope.
There were many positives to the scrimmage. Dash Season Ticket Holders showed up in the hundreds, crowding the section set apart for them. Ching reported that Dash ticket sales are currently exceeding where their Houston Dynamo counterparts were in 2006. The Dash has set a cap of 7000 seats in BBVA Compass Stadium, occupying only the lower half of the bowl. When a fan asked how he could consistently secure tickets when so many club members reserve seats, Ching jocundly stated that the fan could purchase season tickets himself. In addition to the massive crowd viewing the game, several Houston Dynamo players were present, including Giles Barnes and Warren Creavalle.
Brian praised the women as both players and "role models" for the Houston area. After the game concluded, the Houston Dash players stayed behind to sign autographs for the club members. Little girls wearing blue and orange flocked to them, holding out pristine white Dash balls for signing. A hopeful promise of things to come.
Don’t miss your chance to view the Houston Dash. The next preseason game is 4:30 Wednesday, March 26th, against the Houston Dynamo Academy. Their inaugural match will be Saturday, April 12, at 7:00pm against the NWSL Champions, the Portland Thorns FC.