The Houston Dash dropped a hard-fought 1-0 defeat to the Washington Spirit this afternoon at Zions Bank Stadium.
The match was Houston’s fourth and final of the preliminary round, leaving the team with a 1-2-1 record and four points. Houston’s seeding for the quarterfinal will not be determined until Sunday evening.
The Spirit took the lead in the 16th minute through midfielder Bayley Feist. Forward Kumi Yokoyama received the ball along the right flank, pulling the back line wide with her, and played a square pass across the top of the penalty area to forward Ashley Hatch. Hatch drew a pair of defenders before laying off to Feist, who took a touch and fired a low right-footed shot into the lower left corner of the net.
Despite the defeat, goalkeeper Jane Campbell earned Budweiser Houston Dash Woman of the Match honors, finishing the match with six saves to keep her squad in the contest throughout.
Campbell made a strong save in the 14th minute off a Washington free kick. Spirit forward Tegan McGrady whipped a left-footed shot over the wall from 20 yards away, but the goalkeeper was right there to catch the shot cleanly, preventing a rebound. She came up big midway through the first half with a save off a header from Feist in the 21st minute and another off a shot from forward Tegan McGrady in the 27th. Campbell came up with another strong save in the 39th minute off a shot from distance by Hatch.
Forward Rachel Daly created Houston’s first dangerous chance of the match in the 41st minute, breaking free along the left flank and firing a left-footed shot that had goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe beaten but clipped the crossbar.
Two minutes later, forward Katie Stengel collected a loose ball 25 yards from goal and drove into the penalty area before whipping a cross into the danger area, but Bledsoe was quick off her line to catch the cross before it could reach a Dash attacker.
Houston came out more assertively in the second half, with Daly trying her luck on a shot from distance in the opening moments, and midfielder Kristie Mewis firing a shot that went just over the crossbar I the 59th minute.
Stengel fired a left-footed shot in the 68th minute from the center of the penalty area, but her shot was blocked on its way toward goal. The forward created another dangerous opportunity four minutes later when she worked free at the top of the penalty area and fired a right-footed blast from 20 yards that whistled just over the crossbar.
Midfielder Bri Visalli, who came on for Stengel in the 77th minute, immediately created a spark along the right flank. Three times she worked deep into the corner before rifling a cross into the box. Her second cross whistled across the goal mouth inches off the ground, just evading a lunging effort from Mewis. Her third cross earned a corner kick for Houston.
Houston created two excellent chances in stoppage time as they searched for the equalizer. Visalli nearly raced onto a through ball from midfielder Sophie Schmidt in the second minute of stoppage time, but the Washington goalkeeper was quick off her line to outrace Visalli to the ball. IN the fifth minute of stoppage, forward Nichelle Prince curled in a cross from the left wing that Daly leapt to head on frame, forcing a diving save from Bledsoe at the far post.