Sunday, June 03, 2018

Houston Dash battle North Carolina Courage to one-all draw

Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved

HOUSTON, TEXAS (June 3, 2018) Playing some of their best ball against the league leading North Carolina Courage, the Houston Dash battled to a one-all draw at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday evening. The draw was the best result the Dash has ever had against the Courage and extended the unbeaten streak to three.

In three previous meetings, Houston dropped a 2-0 decision earlier this season, on April 28, 2018, at BBVA Compass Stadium; along with two losses in 2017. They lost 1-0 on September 9, 2017 and 4-0 on September 27, 2017. 

Dash defender Haley Hanson battles three
North Carolina players for the ball.
Photo by Darla S Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved

The Dash found pay dirt in the 49th minute when forward Kealia Ohai (shown above) did what she does so well; driving down the pitch and firing a shot past the opposing goalkeeper. She received a pass from goalkeeper Jane Campbell at midfield, driving the ball down the field and into the net. The goal was the first-ever for the Dash against the Courage and pushes Ohai's total to two for the season. Campbell received the assist, her first of the season for Ohai's score. Rachel Daly leads the Dash for four goals in 2018, followed by Kristie Mewis, Veronica Lastko, and Ohai with two each. Ohai stated after the game, when questioned by the press:

Jane (Campbell) has a great service. I saw the outside back was pushed up pretty far so she served it to me and I took off. I actually toe poked it with my right foot and it went in. It’s huge for me. I’m just coming back from an injury and trying to gain that confidence is difficult. It’s more difficult than I had imagine. For me, getting goals is what I need to do. Two games in a row is huge for me.”  

North Carolina evened the score at one in the 79th minute on a goal by Frannie Course, in her first appearance for the Courage in 2018. She entered the game in the 63rd minute as a replacement for midfielder Meredith Speck.

Dash head coach Vera Pauw was asked, in the post-game press conference if North Carolina were able to score as a result of fatigue or lack of focus. She stated:

“It’s probably a surprise that we could dominate the game so much and then we forget what we’ve trained during the whole week – to switch play and that worked out in the first half very well. Then it’s about going forward and that last part which was very, very good in training, somehow we forgot to do that here. The teamwork in the last third of the attack was very difficult, so everybody needs to be completely on the same sheet and if one is jumping off that sheet, then you don’t get the desired outcome. So, that’s also the hardest to develop, the hardest part of the game is to improve and we need to make steps towards that. This team is a development team and has come really far and is very close to being a key partner in this league for the playoffs — a key (contender) for the playoffs.”

The draw brings Houston's record for the first half of the season to 3-4-5 (14 points) while the Courage continues to lead the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) with a 9-0-3 record (30 points). The Dash are currently in seventh place in the NWSL. When Houston returns to play, after a 19-day break, they will face the Portland Thorns on Friday, June 22. The Thorns are currently 4-4-3 (15 points) with one of their three draw coming against the Dash on Wednesday, May 9. 

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