Rachel Daly scored her first professional goal in the 22' minute Saturday night, leading Houston to a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Red Stars. Daly's goal came on the heels of a turnover by Red Stars defender Samantha Johnson. The 24-year-old intercepted Johnson's failed clearance attempt and caught Alyssa Naeher off-guard with a curling strike from outside the box.
Fellow rookie Janine Beckie also got on the board, scoring her first professional goal in the 53' minute. Kealia Ohai threaded the ball past two defenders to a wide open Beckie and the 21-year-old launched a strike into the bottom corner.
Houston's only error of the match came in the 13' minute. Red Stars forward Christen Press capitalized on a Dash giveaway and beat Dash goalkeeper Lydia Williams 1v1 for the opening goal of the game. Chicago was unable to materialize any consistent attack against the Dash following the goal, their stagnant offense produced only seven total shots to Houston's 14.
Dash head coach Randy Waldrum's club looked transformative from a season ago, their new-found look played dominant in possession and fierce on attack. Along with Carli Lloyd, the two rookies accounted for all three goals and helped led Houston's overall attack against Chicago. The 33-year-old Dash captain picked up right where she left off last season and continued her strong play in true FIFA World Player of the Year fashion, netting the go-ahead goal in the 51' minute. Daly assisted on the goal, receiving a feed from Beckie and directed a perfectly weighted cross past Johnson and to the head of Lloyd. Daly was named Player of the Match, following her spectacular performance tallying a goal and assist in her professional debut.
The Dash were able to exhibit their depth in the closing third of the match substituting Beckie, Ohai and Andressa for Chioma Ubogagu, Stephanie Ochs and recent signing Caity Heap. Notably, the Dash were without Cari Roccaro, Morgan Brian and Melissa Henderson all due to injury. Prior to kickoff, it was announced Houston will host the 2016 NWSL Championship game Oct. 9 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Houston will look to build off their opening victory next Saturday, in their first matchup against expansion side the Orlando Pride.
Dash starting XI: Williams; Poliana, Brush, Moros, Chapman; Andressa, Brooks, Lloyd (c); Daly, Beckie, Ohai #HOUvCHI pic.twitter.com/FLqu9PrInU— Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) April 16, 2016
71' Ubogagu comes in for Beckie. #HOUvCHI— Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) April 17, 2016
81' Ochs in for Ohai #HOUvCHI— Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) April 17, 2016
87' Heap in for Andressa #HOUvCHI— Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) April 17, 2016