As it would turn out, the match between the Houston Dash and the Boston Breakers Sunday afternoon would not be the last game for the Dash in the 2014 season. However, it was still important - despite the fact points meant nothing for either team. At least point it was about ending strong and players giving their all to help secure spots on the team for the next season.
Boston and Houston are both on the bottom of the NWSL table, with Houston just one point above Boston. Former Houston player Nikki Washington would also be in the line up for the Breakers. So pride was definitely at stake as well.
The first chance of the game would come in the fifth minute. Boston's forward Reeves beat her defender, Whitney Engen, and tore down the right toward goal. However, instead of taking the shot, she passed it back. The connection didn't happen, however, and Stephanie Ochs swooped in and cleaned up the pass for the Dash.
Boston enjoyed a bit more of the possession early on, but the Dash would finally get their chance in the 13th minute. Forward Kealia Ohai would get on the end of the ball and maneuver her way around a few defenders. Once she was clear, she would take a rocket shot, which curled just shy of the back post.
As the first half went on, the Breakers worked hard to get in Dash territory, while Houston would have quick runs in Boston territory. However, in the 21st minute, Kristie Mewis chipped in a long shot toward the far goal post. It went right over the head of Meghan Klingenberg to the waiting feet of Breaker's Heather O'Reilly. She tried to hit it in, but the ball went right across the face of goal, luckily for the Dash.
The longer the half went on, the stronger Boston's possession and chances on goal became. They slowly began to show they were the better team as they continued to push against the Houston defense. In the 36th minute, O'Reilly had another chance on goal after a pass from Mewis. But a diving save from Dash keeper Erin McLeod would stop the ball.
A minute later and against the play, Ohai used her speed to get down the left wing and curled in, taking a shot. Boston's keeper Alyssa Naeher barely got her hand out to knock the ball out for a corner.
The game play took a bit more of a swing in Houston's favor after that. In the 43rd minute, Ohai would streak up the middle of the field again. Taking advantage of Boston's keeper being off her line, Ohai took the shot. The ball would hit off the far post, however. And that would be the last play worth note in the first half.
The second half was much of the same - Boston with the majority of possession and little if anything creative from Houston. In the 53rd minute, a Boston corner would see the ball hit in toward Houston goal, however McLeod was good on her line and snatched the ball. The Dash would attempt a counter, but would not be able to make anything of the chance.
Kaylynn Kyle and Tiffany McCarty would attempt a goal for Dash in the 59th minute. Kyle would curl the ball in toward a rushing McCarty but McCarty would be unable to get another power on the shot to make it dangerous for Naeher.
Boston would attempt something similar two minutes later, this time with O'Reilly weaving through Dash defenders before she kicked it back to Schoepfer. Schoepfer would take the shot, but it hit right into the arms of McLeod.
While the first 60 minutes of the match had not seen much in the way of physical play from either team, it seemed as the minutes started to tick down from 30, both teams stepped up their play more - especially Boston. The home team had been handling the majority of the possession, but they definitely started to apply more pressure to the Dash defense.
That lasted for about 10 minutes before things started to calm down once more. Houston would attempt to get a few plays going, but could never muster enough pressure. The Breakers had backed off a bit, but still continued to have the better control of the game.
In the 77th minute, that control would pay off. Heather O'Reilly would come up the far wing, pick her head up and send the ball in to the box. Kristie Mewis would be waiting right in front of goal and knock the ball in, giving them the lead.
They would almost get a second in the 79th minute as Boston's Courtney Jones took advantage of a bad pass back to Osi Ohale. As Ohale tried to wrangle the ball, Jones raced up and stripped the ball from the Dash defender. She would take a shot, but it was a mis hit and go wide across the face of goal.
The goal definitely gave Boston a chance to be a bit more confident in their charges.
Houston almost got lucky in the 83rd minute. A shot was sent into the Breaker's box. Souza would head it toward goal but it ended up coming to McFarlane's feet. However, she was caught offside as she knocked it in goal.
The Dash finally began to pick up their physical play a bit in the dying minutes of the half as the team attempted to get on the scoreboard. Klingenberg tried her hand at sending the ball in, but there were no players to knock it in.
A hand ball foul was called against Houston in the 90th minute, giving the Breakers a great free kick opportunity at the beginning of stoppage time. Schoepfer made a very hard low shot that went right past the Houston wall and caused McLeod to dive for the save.
Houston would try one last shot, but it wouldn't get anywhere close to goal as Naeher would come far off her line to punch out the ball. Boston would take the opportunity of Houston having all their players forward, rushing toward goal, but the shot taken would go way over goal.
Not much would happen in the last minute of stoppage time, and the match would end for a 1-0 win for Boston, closing out their season.
Houston, however, have one more chance to get a win in their final game of the season against Sky Blue FC Aug. 20. To pull that off, the Dash will have to dig deep and find some sort of creativity offensively. The defense held strong during the Breakers' game, but there was nothing up front for Houston, other than the occasional speed from Kealia Ohai. For a win against Sky Blue, the Dash need to work on offensive pressure desperately.
Houston Dash - McLeod; Klingenberg, Ohale, Engen, Ochs; Kyle, Jackson, Edwards; Ohai, Burger (76' Souza), Henderson (46' McCarty).
Boston Breakers - Naeher, Jones, Whitehill (88' Evans), Reeves (69' Sierra), King, O'Reilly, Schoepfer, Mewis, Pathman, Wood and Washington (84' D’Agostino).