A frantic finish nearly put the perfect touch on a historic night for the Houston Dash against Portland Thorns FC, but in the end the newest National Women’s Soccer League team couldn’t overtake the defending champions in a 1-0 match at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Any jitters concerning the first match in franchise history were either non-existent or converted into positive energy by the Dash, who came out on the front foot in the first half, despite playing with only 10 players for much of the opening quarter of an hour.
Injuries to both Brittany Bock (right knee sprain) and Kealia Ohai (right ankle injury) left the Dash shorthanded for upwards of nine minutes to start the match, yet Houston largely controlled play with a player off receiving treatment.
Portland, however, jumped into the lead off the restart after Teresa Noyola entered after Bock went down for a second time and was forced off.
Allie Long, a consistent offensive threat for Portland throughout the night, charged in on a long throw into the box by Jessica McDonald and flicked it to the far side, past the lunging Erin McLeod but inside the back post.
Long nearly doubled the lead right before half, but a kick save from McLeod kept the deficit at one going into the break.
Portland entered the second half more confident in possession, and again it was Long who served as the catalyst. The midfielder cracked a shot off the top of the crossbar in the 48th minute, and forced another save from McLeod from a tight angle ten minutes later.
The Dash found their footing in the match again in the final stages searching for the equalizer, including several close calls in the final minutes of regulation.
Stephanie Ochs had a chance in the 76th minute, finding an opening at the top of the penalty area to chest down a long ball from Noyola and getting a shot away that sailed high.
In the 90th minute, Tiffany McCarty was beaten to a cross from Jordan Jackson right at the post by a Thorns defender, and substitute Lindsay Elston forced a diving save from Nadine Angerer a minute later off a curling shot from the edge of the box.
In the final minute of added time, Dash midfielder Becky Edwards redirected a headed ball from Osinachi Ohale past Angerer and into the net. The 8,097 fans in attendance subdued their exultations after they spotted the assistant referee’s flag raised for offside, and the center official ended the match just moments later.
The Dash return to action next Sunday as they take their first road trip of the year to face the Boston Breakers. Portland will also travel to the East Coast to take on Sky Blue FC next Saturday.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Houston Dash vs. Portland Thorns FC
Date: April 12, 2013
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium
Kickoff: 7:20 p.m. CT
Weather: 75 degrees, cloudy
PTFC: Allie Long (Jessica McDonald) 24
Houston Dash: Erin McLeod (capt.); Arianna Romero, Osinachi Ohale, Holly Hein, Nikki Washington; Brittany Bock (Teresa Noyola 23), Jordan Jackson, Becky Edwards; Kealia Ohai (Lindsay Elston 58), Ella Masar, Stepahanie Ochs (Tiffany McCarty 78)
Subs not used: Kika Toulouse, Bianca Henninger, Marissa Diggs
Portland Thorns FC: Nadine Angerer; Courtney Niemiec, Nikki Marshall, Emily Menges, Rebecca Moros (Jackie Acevedo 82); Amber Brooks, Allie Long, Sinead Farrelly, Angie Kerr (Meleana Shim 75); Christine Sinclair, Jessica McDonald (Sarah Huffman 71)
Subs not used: Michelle Betos
PTFC: Allie Long (caution) 15
HOU: Ella Masar (caution) 74
Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referees: Veronica Perez, Marlene Duffy
Fourth Official: Danielle Chesky