MATCH REPORT: Houston Dashes Hopes for Sky Blue Win Once More

By Julie Zovak

Though Sky Blue FC led early on at Yurcak Field in New Jersey, the Houston Dash’s 86th minute goal on Sunday tied the score 1-1 and sent both teams home with one point apiece. It was a nightmarish replay of the 1-1 tie between the teams back in April, when Sky Blue led early but could only secure the tie. Sky Blue FC currently sits in last place in the league and has not managed to score more than one goal in a game this season. The Dash are currently in fifth place after picking up the point on the road.

Sky Blue showed some offensive prowess early with some tight passing sequences, then in the 12th minute they capitalized on a corner kick to go ahead 1-0. Katy Freels took the kick, and Kristin Grubka headed the ball from the middle of the box to the near post, where Hayley Haagsma kept it in the air for a goal-scoring header past Dash keeper Bianca Henninger.

Houston made a couple small runs in an attempt to respond respond, and their best chance at equalizing in the first half came on a free kick in the 24th minute taken by Kealia Ohai. She placed a soft kick toward the far post, but Sky Blue keeper Brittany Cameron punched it out before any deflection could lead to a goal.

Sky Blue finished the first half strong, taking offensive opportunities and making runs that led to a couple shots that just missed the net. They went into halftime with the lead and the momentum and came out just as aggressively to start the second half. A dangerous cross from Meg Morris forced Henninger to make a diving effort to punch out the ball, and minutes later Sky Blue lofted a shot just over the crossbar.

But Houston came back with some opportunities of its own. First, Ohai took a free kick nearly identical to her first half attempt, and the Dash got a head on it, but Cameron deflected it just enough to knock it off the crossbar and keep it out of the net. Soon after, in the 68th minute, Grubka saved Sky Blue when she used a bicycle kick to knock Houston’s cross off the goal line.

The Dash squandered yet another opportunity in the 76th minute, when a foul was called on a trip in the box, leading to a penalty kick. Houston’s Jessica McDonald took the kick, placing the ball to the left side of the net, but Cameron came out for a diving save and Sky Blue still led by one.

In the 83rd minute, the Dash used their last substitution, bringing on amateur call-up forward Allie Bailey. The move would pay off, as three minutes later Bailey scored her first professional goal and tied the game. It started with an Ohai cross to forward Tiffany McCarty, who touched it toward the goal. Cameron knocked it out, but the deflection went right to Bailey, who put it neatly in the back of the net and put Houston back in the game.

Both teams traded a couple more offensive opportunities, but neither could score again, and the game ended in the 1-1 tie, a relief to the Dash but a huge disappointment to Sky Blue not being able to get three points at home after leading for most of the game.

On June 6, Houston plays host to the Portland Thorns, and Sky Blue will travel to Washington to face Seattle Reign FC.

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