The stage was set at BBVA Compass Compass Stadium on Friday night as the Houston Dash faced the Boston Breakers, and forward Kealia Ohai stepped right up for the performance of the night with both goals in a 2-1 win for the home side.
As the Dash attacked the south end in the second half, the staging structure set up behind the goal for a stadium event the next day seemed to stretch to the midfield line as Ohai seized the spotlight with her relentless runs at the Breakers defense to lead the comeback attempt.
That comeback was needed after the Dash defense was caught sleeping in just the fourth minute on a clearance that only made it out to Heather O’Reilly on the right wing. Katie Schoepfer snuck behind the ball-watching Dash line and O’Reilly’s chipped pass was finished easily by the Boston forward.
But the lights turned on in the second half, and Ohai took over. It began in the 56th minute off a moment of individual brilliance. Ohai collected a tackle won by Kelly McFarlane on the left sideline and cut inside. The rookie forward got an inch of separation at the corner of the penalty area and curled a perfectly placed shot around a diving Naeher and into the side netting.
Ohai struck again five minutes later, this time showing off her speed. Jordan Jackson received a ball at midfield and found herself and Ohai with just one defender between them and the goal. Jackson played a ball through to Ohai, who burst down the field and finished past Naeher.
Ohai played the creator as well, setting up several attempts and earning a penalty. She found Melissa Henderson—playing with her teammates for the first time since being traded from FC Kansas City on Wednesday—alone on the break in the 75th minute. Henderson was one-on-one with Naeher several yards off her line, but the shot attempt was weak and caught by the Boston keeper.
Ohai’s cross in the 82nd minute to Henderson bounced off the hand of a Breakers defender, and referee Bernard Hosu pointed to the penalty spot. Ella Masar hit the spot kick with power, but Naeher guessed correctly to block the shot and keep the scoreline static.
The game opened up as legs grew tired in the Houston heat and Boston pushed to tie the match, but Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod came away with multiple second half stops. Nkem Ezurike had an open shot easily handled by McLeod in the 89th minute, and then McLeod smothered a close-range attempt from Jazmine Reeves on a loose ball in the box a minute later to seal the win.
The Dash broke a three game losing streak with the victory, their second over the Breakers. The team remains at home next week, taking on the Washington Spirit for a Thursday night affair at BBVA Compass Stadium. Boston now looks ahead to the next location on their seven-game road trip, a visit to Portland on July 20.
Houston Dash (4-10-1; 13 points) vs. Boston Breakers (3-11-2; 11 points)
NWSL regular season
July 11, 2014 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Boston: Katie Schoepfer 2 (Heather O’Reilly 2) 4
Houston: Kealia Ohai 2 (Kelly McFarlane 1) 56
Houston: Kealia Ohai 3 (Jordan Jackson 1) 61
Boston Breakers: Alyssa Naeher; Cat Whitehill, Bianca D’Agostino (Nkem Ezurike 67), Bianca Sierra; Kristie Mewis, Maddy Evans (Mollie Pathman 57), Joanna Lohman, Heather O’Reilly; Courtney Jones, Katie Schoepfer (Chelsea Stewart 79), Jazmine Reeves
Unused Substitutes: Jami Kranich, Rachel Wood
Houston Dash: Erin Mcleod; Arianna Romero (Stephanie Ochs 69), Osinachi Ohale, Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg; Kaylyn Kyle, Jordan Jackson (Ella Masar 76), Becky Edwards; Kealia Ohai, Nina Burger (Kelly McFarlane 46), Melissa Henderson
Unused substitutes: Bianca Henninger, Rafaelle Souza, Tiffany McCarty, Marissa Diggs
HOU: Becky Edwards (Caution) 74
BOS: Courtney Jones (Caution) 90+3
Referee: Bernard Hosu
Assistant Referees: Karen Abt, Pedro Trejo Jr.
Fourth Official: Christa Dorsey