Playing their first home match in 367 days, the Houston Dash gave their fans plenty to cheer about with a 3-1 victory over the Orlando Pride tonight at BBVA Stadium.
Coming on the heels of a 4-3 loss at North Carolina on Sept. 12, tonight’s result marked the first time the high-scoring Dash have scored three or more goals in consecutive matches since September of 2016. Houston outshot Orlando 27-6 on the evening, had a 9-3 edge in corner kicks and held the ball for nearly 57 percent of the contest.
Midfielder Sophie Schmidt led the way with a Woman of the Match performance, playing a role in all three Dash goals. The Canadian international scored the match-winning penalty, assisted on the opener and played the ball that led to the third goal of the evening.
The Dash opened the scoring in the 27th minute through forward Nichelle Prince. The speedy striker raced onto a lofted pass from Schmidt and put a first-touch volley home with her right boot. Schmidt’s pass, a perfectly-weighted chip from midfield, split two defenders and put Prince in alone on Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
Orlando leveled things on the stroke of halftime thanks to midfielder Marisa Viggiano. Playing in a wide position, Viggiano took possession on the left flank and raced toward the penalty area. She cut inside onto her right foot before slipping a low shot past goalkeeper Jane Campbell. The shot nicked the inside of the post and ricocheted over the line for a goal.
Houston retook the lead in the 55th minute when Schmidt converted a penalty kick, perfectly placing her shot in the upper right corner and giving Harris no chance to save it. Midfielder Shea Groom drew the penalty when she was brought down by Viggiano while running on to a chip from Schmidt.
Midfielder Kristie Mewis looked ready to put the game away again in the 71st minute when she outran the Orlando defense to a long ball down the flank, then rounded an onrushing Harris. Her shot from a tight angle looked to be on target, but a sliding effort from Orlando captain Ali Krieger saved the goal and gave Houston a corner kick.
Off of the ensuing corner, Groom finally found Houston’s third goal. After Mewis’ initial ball sailed over everyone, Schmidt ran onto it at the back post and cut the ball back to the penalty spot. Forward Veronica Latsko’s volley was deflected off of the right post, but fell to Groom who smashed it home. The goal was Groom’s first of the NWSL Fall Series and her fourth of the year across all competitions.
The Verizon NWSL Fall Series is an 18-game series involving all nine teams in the league. The teams are divided into three-team pods, with Houston grouped with North Carolina and the Orlando Pride. Each team will play four matches – home and away against each of the other two teams in their pod – and the team with the highest point total at the conclusion of the series will be declared the winner.
As part of the Fall Series, each of the NWSL’s nine clubs will compete for the Verizon Community Shield. Each club has partnered with a small business or program in their community, and the team with the most points at the end of the Fall Series will be awarded the Verizon Community Shield and the opportunity to present a grant of $25,000 to their community partner, made possible by Verizon. $15,000 and $10,000 will be presented to the second and third-place teams, respectively. The Dash are playing for the NAACP of Houston.
Houston will remain home at BBVA Stadium for their next match, as they host North Carolina on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. CDT.