PISCATAWAY, NJ—The Houston Dash put together perhaps their most complete performance of the season in a 3-0 win over Sky Blue FC, with Tiffany McCarty scoring twice and goalkeeper Erin McLeod anchoring the team’s first-ever shutout in their second consecutive win.
McCarty got the Dash off the mark in the 10th minute, faking her defender to the outside to create space at the top of the box then curling a perfectly-placed shot just over Sky Blue goalkeeper Jill Loyden. It marked the first time that the Dash have scored the opening goal of the match, as they’ve played from behind in each of their previous 10 games.
The Dash kept up the pressure to score 10 minutes later. Ella Masar, unmarked eight yards from goal, powered a header from Becky Edwards’ cross that Loyden was only able to deflect into the net. Sky Blue protested for an offside call from the assistant referee, but none was forthcoming and the goal stood.
McLeod went through the first 45 minutes without much of a test, but did her part in preserving the shutout with several quality saves in the second half. Sky Blue halftime substitute Jonelle Filigno was the main threat, but McLeod denied her with a spectacular flying stop in the 48th minute and again one-on-one ten minutes later. McLeod’s biggest moment, however, came as the Dash failed to clear a Filigno cross in the 66th minute and the captain came up with two close-range saves in quick succession.
Defender Whitney Engen made her Dash debut after joining the team earlier in the week from Swedish side Tyresö FF, along with fellow U.S. international Meghan Klingenberg. The center back impressed, commanding the back line en route to Houston’s first clean sheet. Klingenberg, whose transfer papers were not cleared in time for the match, will have to wait for her introduction as the pair leaves for USWNT camp in preparation for a couple of matches against France.
The Dash continued pushing forward offensively in the second half looking for a third goal, including a Kaylyn Kyle goal that was disallowed for offside and shots from Teresa Noyola and Kealia Ohai that were saved well by Loyden.
It was Loyden’s mistake in the 80th minute, though, that sealed the result for Houston. The keeper came off her line for a ball at the top of the box, but wasn’t able to clear it as she collided with her own defender. McCarty picked up the loose ball and chipped it to the open net, going in off of Kelley O’Hara’s head as the Sky Blue defender attempted to clear the shot off the line.
The Dash take their two-game winning streak home for a match against the Western New York Flash on Wednesday, followed by a Saturday game against FC Kansas City. Sky Blue travels to Illinois to face the Chicago Red Stars next Sunday.
Houston Dash (3-7-1, 10 points) at Sky Blue FC (2-6-4, 10 points)
NWSL regular season
June 8, 2014 – Yurcak Field, Piscataway, New Jersey
Houston: Tiffany McCarty 2 (unassisted) 10
Houston: Ella Masar 3 (Becky Edwards 2) 20
Houston: Tiffany McCarty 3 (unassisted) 80
Houston Dash: Erin McLeod ©; Arianna Romero, Osinachi Ohale, Whitney Engen, Stephanie Ochs; Kaylyn Kyle, Ella Masar (Teresa Noyola 57), Becky Edwards; Kealia Ohai, Nina Burger (Rafaelle Souza 64), Tiffany McCarty (Jordan Jackson 81)
Unused substitutes: Bianca Henninger, Marissa Diggs, Kelly McFarlane
Sky Blue FC: Jillian Loyden; Caitlin Foord, CoCo Goodson (Lindsi Cutshall 46), Kendall Johnson (Jonelle Filigno 46), Christie Rampone; Katy Freels, Kelley O’Hara, Ashley Nick, Cami Levin; Sophie Schmidt, Nanase Kiryu (Maya Hayes 82)
Unused substitutes: Brittany Cameron, Monica Ocampo, Maddie Thompson, Meg Morris
SBFC: Katy Freels (caution) 86
SBFC: Ashley Nick (caution) 90+1
Referee: Michael Zapata
Assistant referees: Russell Wolf, Emilie Buse
Fourth official: Neil Barbulescu