She may be only 24 years old - quite young for a goalkeeper -, but Jane Campbell continues to prove her worth as one of the leaders of the Houston Dash. The three-year starter between the sticks has been a steady presence since her arrival, and her game-defining moment in the 2-1 win over the Washington Spirit could go a long way in moving the team forward as they look to rebound from a rough patch.
The Dash found themselves within an arm’s length of a desperately-needed win on Saturday thanks to a second half comeback. When the official whistled for a foul in the penalty area on Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan, it appeared those three points might be cruelly snatched away at the death. A sell-out crowd at Maureen Hendricks prepared to erupt as Mallory Pugh stepped up to take the spot kick, but Campbell had other ideas.
A penalty kick provides one of the most dramatic junctures in sports, as a fluid game is brought to a halt and 20 of 22 players are instantly transformed into spectators. While some may crumble under the pressure, Campbell revels in the moment and has come up big time and time again.
“It’s all just fun. I love the moment, I love shootouts. They’re just really fun for me.” she told SB Nation’s Kim McCauley following the dramatic affair.
Campbell’s denial of Pugh, her third penalty save on the year, proved the difference and appeared to lift a massive weight off a Dash team that had gone just over two months without tasting victory. The entire bench flooded onto the field when the final whistle blew and embraced the 24-year-old ‘keeper, who spoke to the power of the moment and just how influential this result might prove moving forward.
“Tying and losing can be a grind. The season is so long and we’ve missed our World Cup players for sure. Now that everyone is back, including Rach (Daly), I just think it was moment for us to really come back together as a group.”
Rachel Daly’s return did indeed provide a spark for the team going forward, and it was her clever back heel that set up Sofia Huerta to play provider on the equalizer.
Daly was one of several players to miss action while on international duty at the World Cup, but Campbell was quick to take ownership and maintain that the standard should remain high regardless of who’s missing from the fray.
“I think we as a team really dropped the ball when the World Cup players were gone. Not winning one of those games was really disappointing for us, so I think getting a win or some points at least in this game was huge.”
A midweek fixture against the Portland Thorns presents a stiff challenge on short rest, but even a draw would set the team up nicely for when they return to BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday. That fixture against Sky Blue FC kicks off a stretch in which the women in orange will play three of four at home. If they are able to build on this momentum in the coming weeks, Campbell’s latest heroics could very well be the moment the team looks back on come playoff time as the turning point of the 2019 season.