The Houston Dash dropped their first match of the 2015 preseason 2-0 against the Houston Dynamo Academy U-16s on Wednesday night at Houston Sports Park.
The Dash struggled to get a foothold in the opening minutes of the match as the Academy kept possession and constant pressure in their attacking half. Bianca Henninger was called into action on a few occaisions, including a diving save off a header in the seventh minute of play.
The pressure eventually paid off for the boys 10 minutes in, as Gianluca Natera burst down the right side to the endline. As he pulled a pass back across the box, Dash midfielder Ashley Nick slid in to cut it out but deflected the cross straight past Henninger for an own goal.
As the first half wore on, the Dash began to work their way into the match. A pair of counter attack opportunities were halted by the offside flag, and promising spells of possession ended with crosses from wide areas played into the box, though the finish was not there.
Dash head coach Randy Waldrum changed much of his team for the second half of play, fielding a side composed mostly of trialists. Trouble struck again 10 minutes into the half, as Natera played an early cross into the box that Academy striker Vieri Joya got enough of a touch with his head to place it over substitute goalkeeper Megan Kinneman's reach and into the net.
The Dash fired right back, however, in the 61st minute with one of their best chances of the night. Anisa Guajardo headed down a long free kick into the box, into the path of Cami Privett. Privett hit a shot off the bounce that looked goal bound, until it smashed into teammate Ella Masar, who was in an offside position.
The Academy had a few chances to add to their lead further in the second half, but clearances off the line by Tessa Andujar and Carleigh Williams, as well as an open-goal shot off the crossbar by Joya, denied them that opportunity.
"That's the reason we wanted to play [the Academy]: they're bigger, they're stronger, they're faster than what we're going to run into. I think we get more out of that than we would playing a college team that we beat five- or six-nothing," said Waldrum after the match. "I thought the girls did ok today. I think once they started getting in and winning a few tackles, stringing a few passes together, I thought the last half hour or so [of the first half] we were ok."
The Dash face the Academy once more next Wednesday, March 25, at Houston Sports Park before taking on the University of Texas on March 29.
Houston Dash vs. Houston Dynamo Academy U-16
March 18, 2015 — Houston Sports Park, Houston, TX
Academy: Ashley Nick (own goal) 10
Academy: Vieri Joya (Gianluca Natera) 55
First half: Bianca Henninger; Jen LaPonte*, Carleigh Williams*, Taylor Leach*, Jazmyne Avant*; Rachael Axon, Ashley Nick; Melissa Henderson, Jordan Jackson, Tiffany McCarty; Ella Masar
Second half: Megan Kinneman* (Haley Carter* 69); Tessa Andujar*, Carleigh Williams*, Taylor Leach*, Yadira Toraya*; Jordan O'Brien*, Lauren Silver*; Anisa Guajardo*, Cami Privett*, Allie Bailey*; Ella Masar
Academy U-16 starters: Trevor Kallendorf; Cameron Walker, Quayyum Murana, Cole Hill, Jon Diaz; Ryan Guajardo, Erwin Regules; Jordi Cobo, Gabriel Ruiz, Gianluca Natera; Alejandro Saez