On the heels of the NWSL Championship match yesterday between FC Kansas City and Seattle Reign FC, Houston Dash forward Melissa Henderson made the announcement Friday that she would retire from professional soccer after three season in the league.
"It's bittersweet for me to announce my retirement from a game that I've loved so deeply since the day I was introduced to it," Henderson said in a press release from the team. "I am forever grateful to all the experiences soccer has given me throughout my life and career thus far. I have been blessed to play with and against some of the most talented, charismatic, and driven players in the world. I've also been able to play for some of the most world-class organizations and coaches there is.
"The love I have for all my teammates, opponents, fans, and coaches is unending," she added. Thank y'all for pushing me to not only be a better player but a better person as well. I will continue to strive to be the best leader and role model in whatever plans the Lord holds for my future."
The 26-year-old made 29 appearances, 22 of those as starts, and marked two assists in one and a half seasons with the Dash. Houston picked up Henderson through a trade with FC Kansas City in July 2014. She made 22 regular season appearances (16 starts) with FCKC in 2013-14 season, and notched one goal in the 2013 NWSL playoffs.
"This is a difficult time for me personally, as I’ve watched Melissa grow from a youth player, to a player for me at Notre Dame where we won a NCAA National Championship together, to a pro player for me here in Houston, and now this move into the next phase of her life," Dash head coach Randy Waldrum also said in the press release. "I’m going to miss Melissa not only for her soccer playing ability, but also for the quality person that she is and what she brings to our team both on and off the field. I am so happy for Melissa and am thankful for the time I've had to coach her all these years. I hope the Dash family lets her know how much we have appreciated her."
A native of Garland, Texas, Henderson was a four-year letterwinner under Coach Waldrum at the University of Notre Dame. She ended her Notre Dame career tied for the fourth-most goals in school history (70) and led the Fighting Irish to the 2010 NCAA National Championship. She was a two-time first team All-America and three-time first team All-Big EAST selection. Henderson also earned Big East Offensive Player of the Year and was first runner-up for the Hermann trophy during her junior year in 2010. As a junior at Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas, she was named Gatorade High School Player of the Year.