The Houston Dash let a two-goal second half lead slip away to league leaders Chicago Red Stars on Saturday night in a 2-2 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Kealia Ohai earned a penalty and scored a goal of her own to put the Dash up two goals, but rookie Sofia Huerta struck back twice in the second half to leave the teams level.
- WATCH: Full match replay
It was the first match in over a year for Dash midfielder Brittany Bock, who played the first half returning from an ACL tear suffered in the opening minutes of last season’s inaugural match. Toni Pressley also got her first start with the Dash after joining the team via trade from the Western New York Flash.
The Dash went back and forth with Chicago to start the match, with neither side able to generate any clear-cut chances until Houston broke free in the 28th minute.
Ohai fought through a foul on the sideline near midfield, then dribbled unimpeded into the Chicago box. Red Stars defender Arin Gililand slid in to try to dispossess the forward, but caught Ohai’s leg for the foul and the penalty. Rachael Axon stepped up to the spot and curled her attempt just inside the right post for her first NWSL goal and the lead.
Chicago came out of halftime with a vengeance, though, and put Houston under constant pressure for the second 45 minutes. Alyssa Mautz got open down the right flank on back-to-back occasions to put crosses at the back post, but Rachel Quon and Jen Hoy both missed point-blank opportunities.
After a third straight scramble in front of the Houston goal, the Dash finally cleared the pressure to Melissa Henderson at midfield with just one defender marking her. Henderson found Ohai alone streaking down the middle of the field, and the speedy forward finished one-on-one against Michele Dalton in the 59th minute.
The Red Stars answered immediately, however, and didn’t let up. Vanessa DiBernardo found Hoy at the top of the box in the 60th minute, who then flicked a pass on behind the defense for Sofia Huerta. The rookie made no mistake on the finish from a tight angle to cut the deficit to a single goal.
It was Huerta again in the 81st minute to bring Chicago all the way back, as she took a ball in the box and found just enough space on her left foot from 10 feet out to tuck a shot off goalkeeper Bianca Henninger’s hand and inside the far post. It’s the second consecutive two-goal game for Huerta, who claimed NWSL Player of the Week honors last week.
Chicago remains unbeaten on the year, while the Dash broke a two-game losing streak with the draw. Both teams travel next Saturday, with the Dash traveling to take on Portland Thorns FC and the Red Stars taking on FC Kansas City.
Houston Dash (1-2-2; 5 points) vs. Chicago Red Stars (3-0-2; 11 points)
NWSL regular season
May 15, 2015 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Houston Dash: Rachael Axon 1 (penalty) 28
Houston Dash: Kealia Ohai 2 (Melissa Henderson 1) 59
Chicago Red Stars: Sofia Huerta 3 (Jen Hoy 2) 60
Chicago Red Stars: Sofia Huerta 4 (unassisted) 81
Houston Dash: Bianca Henninger; Jen LaPonte, Niki Cross, Toni Pressley, Ella Masar ©; Melissa Henderson (Allie Bailey 71), Brittany Bock (Jordan Jackson 46), Rachael Axon, Tiffany McCarty (Cami Privett 66); Kealia Ohai, Jessica McDonald
Substitutes Not Used: Jordan Day, Carleigh Williams, Lauren Silver, Stephanie Roche
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Kealia Ohia 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Rachael Axon, Kealia Ohia tied with 2); FOULS: 4 (Ella Masar, Rachael Axon, Toni Pressley, Melissa Henderson tied with 1); OFFSIDES: 2 (Jessica McDonald 2); CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 3 (Bianca Henninger 3)
Chicago Red Stars: Michele Dalton; Arin Gilliland, Samantha Johnson, Abby Erceg, Tayrn Hemmings; Alyssa Mautz (Michelle Lomnicki 81), Rachel Quon (Rachel Tejada 85), Vanessa DiBernardo, Danielle Colaprico; Jen Hoy (Cara Walls 69), Sofia Huerta
Substitutes Not Used: Monica Gonyo, Leigh Jakes, Kelley McCloskey, Jackie Esterkamp
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Sofia Huerta 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Sofia Huerta 3); FOULS: 12 (Samantha Johnson 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 9 (Vanessa DiBernardo 6); SAVES: 3
CHI: Danielle Colaprico (caution) 43
HOU: Ella Masar (caution) 62
Referee: Randall Kelley
Assistant Referees: Reyna Fonseca, Mike Arrington
Fourth Official: Michael Lavergne