Houston came into Sunday’s match against Sky Blue FC in need of a result following their blowout loss in Portland, and Rachel Daly’s blistering first-half strike was enough to earn three points on the night.
The Dash came within inches of opening the scoring just under three minutes into the match when Kealia Ohai set up Daly near the penalty spot and her left-footed effort pinged off the post. The visitors didn’t look to bothered by the early scare and went on to dominate the run of play in the opening ten minutes with nearly three quarters of possession, although they were unable to produce any quality chances in the final third.
Another golden opportunity was missed in the thirteenth minute. Daly was released down the left channel and had time to choose how and where she wanted to beat Sky Blue ‘keeper Kailen Sheridan, who was able to save the curled effort to the far corner but sent it right into the path of Sofia Huerta. She seemed destined to find the back of the net, but her follow up shot went flying over the crossbar with the goal gaping.
Play began to open up in the subsequent minutes and Carli Lloyd had a chance of her own to open the scoring. A clever through ball released her into the right side of the box, but she also rifled the ball over the frame of goal.
Daly made no mistake when she was handed another chance to notch her fourth goal of the season. She collected a long pass from Ally Prisock at midfield and unleashed a shot into the far corner, which proved too hot to handle for Sheridan.
The hosts were able to increase their possession in the ten minutes before the intermission and finished the half with the better of the chances - four of six attempts on target compared to two shots for Sky Blue.
The first fifteen minutes of the second stanza involved both teams enjoying decent spells on the ball and trading attempts at or near the top of the box without testing the goalkeepers. Huerta won a free kick in a dangerous area in the 69th, which resulted in a caution for Imani Dorsey. Christine Nairn stepped up to take and struck a one-hopper that Sheridan watched all the way in and saved comfortably.
The game slowed down and got a bit sloppy before the BBVA crowd was jolted back to life when Kristie Mewis struck the post with a header at the back post in the 78th minute. Sky Blue began throwing more numbers forward with five to play in regulation but were never able to string together any promising moves. The Dash did a nice job of playing keep away to prevent the opposition from finding a rhythm, and the visitors finished with zero attempts on target.
The win pushes Houston up one spot to sixth place with 19 points gathered after 15 games played. Next up is another home game against Reign FC, who sit just above them in the standings with 20 points.
22’ HOU: Rachel Daly
68’ NJ: Imani Dorsey
Dash: Sophie Schmidt for Jamia Fields (58’), Kyah Simon for Kealia Ohai (80’), Cecelia Kizer for Sofia Huerta (90’)
Sky Blue: Nahomi Kawasumi for Raquel Rodriguez (71’), Jen Hoy for Elizabeth Eddy (73’)