The Houston Dash returned to PNC Stadium on Sunday night to face the reigning NWSL Challenge Cup Champion. North Carolina Courage. The Dash returned home for the first time since going 2-0-1 on a three game road trip. The 7-point road trip looked to give Houston some momentum as they returned to the Bayou City against a formidable opponent.
The Dash went behind early when a mix-up in the back allowed the visitors to pounce. Rookie Diana Ordonez put the Courage in front in the 25th minute.
Houston had several chances to score in the first half and North Carolina looked to be on the verge of taking their lead to the locker room. Dash captain Rachel Daly, in her 100th NWSL appearance had other plans. Daly got on the end of a nicely weighted pass from Nichelle Prince and was able to push the ball past Courage keeper Casey Murphy. Daly kept her composure and smashed her shot through the retreating defenders to equalize in first half stoppage time.
Daly spoke about her goal after the match with the media. “Nichelle (Prince) and I have played together for a really long time now, Daly said. “I think there was a great pickup by, I’m pretty sure, it was Sophie (Schmidt) in the midfield. Yeah, we’ve got good chemistry now, me and Nichelle, and the thing you know, we’ve been working on a lot during the week — the last few weeks. Obviously, she assisted me quite similarly in Portland last week. I think we’re kind of getting on the same page now. We’ve played together for a long time now. So, it was a great, great ball from her. The keeper is a great keeper, she’s big. She’s obviously, she covers the goal really well. She’s tall, very tall. And I thought, you know, maybe I would have dinked over in another game. But I know how tall she is. She got a great hand to my volley, right before that. So, I thought the only option was to go around her . And then yeah, I think on the finish, I just needed to hit it high.”
Both teams came out firing in the second half, but could not find the back of the net. North Carolina finished the match with a 60/40 possession advantage but the Dash had 15 shots to the Courage’s 5. The match would end in a 1-1 draw with both teams picking up a point.
Acting head coach Sarah Lowdon spoke about the performance after the match. “I’m very proud of how the club honored the victims of Uvalde, and we will continue to help support that community moving forward, Lowdon said to the media in her press conference. “So that’s the first thing I’d like to say. We don’t take any points for granted in this league. There’s so much parity whether you’re 4-0 or 0-4. We value wins at home, I thought the first half we struggled, we give the ball away way too much, especially in central areas, lots of turnovers. Second half, we were better. Again, we’re better than the first half. In the first like 10 minutes, we had chances, I thought that we on another day put away. It’s those chances that kind of haunt us later in the game. We have obviously had a couple of games where we’ve conceded late goals. Overall, obviously, to come up with a point at home, obviously, we want to get three points. We have to make sure we pick up points and we will take a point as well. When we’re at home, we’re always looking for those three points.”
Houston returns to PNC Stadium on Friday night to face the Orlando Pride. The Dash will host a pregame ceremony before the match to commemorate Daly’s 100 appearances.