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Houston heat can't stop Seattle

Reign not shaken by weather; notch 4 goals against Dash

Houston Dash's Stephanie Ochs was one of the stand out players Wednesday night against the Seattle Reign FC.
Houston Dash's Stephanie Ochs was one of the stand out players Wednesday night against the Seattle Reign FC.

Playing the Seattle Reign FC was never going to be easy, the Houston Dash knew that to begin with. But Houston hoped to use the home pitch advantage to take down the current league leaders. The heat in Houston had been a concern too, going into the match.

Heat or no, Seattle weren't bothered much, coming right out of the gate and putting the Dash down a goal. In the second minute, Seattle forward Sydney Leroux would be the culprit, putting the ball in past Dash keeper Erin McLeod off a deflection. Very quickly, Houston would be looking to fight their way back into the match.

The first 15 minutes passed with little to report on the side of Houston. Jordan Jackson had a shot in the 12th minute, but it would sail over the Seattle goal. A minute later, forward Kealia Ohai would have a strong run on the back line, but Seattle's defense deflected her cross, effectively killing the run.

Seattle would find a second goal in the 26th minute as Jessica Fishlock would send in a pass to Kim Little. The Seattle midfielder wasted no time and took the shot, putting her team up one more goal.

In the 28th minute, the Dash almost got one back. Stephanie Ochs took a corner piece, lobbing the ball right to Becky Edwards, who headed the ball down and toward goal. However, Seattle's keeper Hope Solo had her knees to thank for the save, knocking the ball back off the line.

Seconds later, Seattle forward Sydney Leroux got behind the defense and attempted to make the scoreline 3-0. However Ochs came in was able to snatch the ball from the speedy Seattle forward. Houston regrouped and pushed up, racing toward goal. With a couple quick touches, Houston forward Melissa Henderson found herself with the ball and in front of goal. Her shot was just wide of goal, but still had Solo scrambling.

Houston seemed to be finding a bit of life they would need to get back in the game, fighting to get possession toward the end of the first half. Seattle kept their pressure heavy on the Dash defense, however. In the 38th minute, Seattle were awarded a corner, but Jackson was able to head it away. The ball came back to Nahomi Kawasumi, who shot it well over goal.

Seattle's presence in the midfield was strong, as they were able to strip the ball away from Houston several times. Houston held their own, however, finding space on the wings to push forward. In the 41st minute, that type of play worked well for Houston, finding them able to make a couple quick passes on the wings. Ochs sent in a long, perfect ball in behind the back line of Seattle and right at the feet of Jordan Jackson. Jackson took the shot, but it landed square in front of Hope Solo.

Seconds later, Seattle forward Kawasumi got free and raced forward with the ball after a pass from Little. She took the shot, but McLeod was able to knock the ball out of the way. The Dash turned for a counter, with Tiffany McCarty working through the midfield. Stephanie Ochs took possession of the ball and battled with Seattle defender Fishlock, but a tackle from Fishlock ended the Dash's push forward.

The two teams would have a little back and forth as the half came to a close, but the first 45 minutes would end with the 2-0 scoreline.

In the second half, Seattle came out starting just as they had in the beginning of the match. In the 48th minute, forward Megan Rapinoe dashed forward and made what looked to be a cross into goal. However, the ball sailed in on an impossible angle and right over Houston keeper McLeod, slipping just barely into the back corner of the net. Seattle were now up 3-0.

Tiffany McCarty tried her hand at bringing in Dash's first goal. After getting a pass, she went one on one with her defender and took a shot. However, it would be deflected out for a corner kick. Again, Edwards had a fantastic header off a Ochs corner kick. But a Seattle player on the line would clear it out. The Dash may have been down three goals, but they weren't giving up.

Then, finally, in the 55th minute, the pressure from Houston paid off. Kealia Ohai made a run on the right side and after beating her defender, Lauren Barnes, took a shot on goal. Hope Solo got a hand on it, but the ball still went into the net. The Dash were finally on the scoreboard.

Seattle came back down the pitch a minute later and Seattle's Keelin Winter would try her hand at the goal. However, McLeod was on her line and knocked it out from goal. But Rapinoe would be there to pick it up, settling the ball and taking the shot. McLeod came up big, racing out of her box and blocking the shot out.

The two teams kept up with a great back and forth for the next 15 minutes. Each team had their fair share of possession and attempts on goal. Both teams showed their strengths in defense as well. The 75th minute would see another attempt from Seattle, this time from Dallstream. The defender would send the shot way over goal, however, right before the second water break of the match was called.

Kim Little would notch her brace in the 78th minute. Racing down through the midfield, she lined up and took a well timed shot which sailed around Whitney Engen and past McLeod into the net. Dash were now looking at a 4-1 scoreline.

Fatigue was evident in the Dash as the game headed into the last 10 minutes of regular time. Seattle was able to start finding more room in the midfield as Houston struggled to get back and help defend. The Dash were able to get another corner in the 85th minute, but nothing was able to come of it, unfortunately.

Burger had a great chance of her own in the 89th minute. Ochs made a lobbing pass into Burger, who headed the ball toward goal. Solo was able to get in front of it, however, and stop the ball.

The end of the match would just be back and forth between the two teams in the midfield. The final score would be 4-1.

Despite the heavy scoreline, the Dash played a decent game. Most notably, Stephanie Ochs definitely stood out during the match. From her passes along the wings and her crosses on corner set pieces, Ochs was by far the best player on the pitch for the Dash. Jordan Jackson and Melissa Henderson did well in the first half and Kealia Ohai was definitely a key up front in the second half.

The one disconcerting thing about the team tonight would be the fatigue. Yes, the heat is a factor, but this is the weather Houston has been practicing in for months now. Seattle looked more settled than the Dash did at the end of the game. It's a growing pain that will be worked out hopefully in the 2015 season. Now, with the rest of the regular season still ahead of them, Houston will more than likely continue to work on their foundation to build on as they close out their first year in the NWSL.

Starting XI:

Seattle Reign FC: Solo; Barnes, Cox, Fletcher, Dallstream; Winters, Fishlock, Little (83', Nogueira); Kawasumi (60', Goebel), Leroux, Rapinoe (77' Foxhoven).

Houston Dash: McLeod; Diggs, Ochs, Klingenberg, Engen; Jackson (70', Burger), McFarlane (45', Kyle), Edwards; Ohai, Souza, Henderson.