PISCATAWAY, NJ — Allie Bailey scored her first NWSL goal in the 86th minute at Yurcak Field to save a point for the Houston Dash in a 1-1 draw against Sky Blue FC.
Bailey’s late goal cancelled out an 11th minute strike from Sky Blue’s Hayley Haagsma and atoned for a missed Dash penalty kick in the second half on a warm Sunday afternoon.
Set piece defending was the culprit once again for the opening goal. Kristin Grubka rose above her defender on a corner kick into the box to head the ball across the face of goal. Haagsma stood unmarked six yards from goal and headed a shot past Dash goalkeeper Bianca Henninger for her first professional goal.
Sky Blue kept up the pressure in the first half, getting off nine shots and four shots on target. Henninger made a jumping save to tip a Taylor Lytle shot over the crossbar in the 14th minute, and got a fingertip on a low, skipping shot from Shawna Gordon to push it around the post in the 43rd minute to keep the halftime deficit at a single goal.
The Dash came out of the break with much better attacking intent. Just past the hour mark, midfielder Brittany Bock headed a Kealia Ohai free kick on target. Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron sprung into action, getting a hand on the shot and tipping it off the crossbar and out. In the 68th minute, Dash defender chipped a ball over Cameron from the end line, but an acrobatic clearance off the line from Grubka dispelled any immediate danger.
Houston looked primed to draw level in the 76th minute after midfielder Rachael Axon was tripped in the box by Sky Blue’s Meg Morris while chasing down a loose ball on a free kick. Forward Jessica McDonald — the team’s leading goalscorer — stepped up to the spot to take the penalty kick but Cameron was able to save her low attempt.
The Dash continued to pressure Sky Blue’s defense searching for an equalizer, and finally broke through in the 86th minute. Ohai dribbled down the right flank and served in a low cross through the box. Forward Tiffany McCarty connected with the pass, but Cameron was well positioned to block the shot. The rebound, however, fell to Bailey trailing on the backside, and the Texas A&M product and amateur call-up fired into open net.
The result stretches Houston’s three-game unbeaten streak, which includes gaining four points in two consecutive road matches. The clubs also settled for a 1-1 draw in their previous meeting of the year, on April 18 in New Jersey. Both teams return to the field next Saturday, with the Dash returning home to host Portland Thorns FC and Sky Blue FC traveling to take on Seattle Reign FC.
Houston Dash (2-2-3, 9 points) at Sky Blue FC (1-3-4, 7 points)
NWSL regular season
May 31, 2015 — Yurcak Field, Piscataway, New Jersey
Sky Blue FC: Hayley Haagsma 1 (Kristin Grubka 1) 11
Houston Dash: Allie Bailey 1 (unassisted) 86
Houston Dash: Bianca Henninger; Ella Masar ©, Niki Cross, Ellie Brush, Toni Pressley; Rachael Axon, Brittany Bock (Allie Bailey 83), Cami Privett (Tiffany McCarty 60); Melissa Henderson (Jordan Jackson 70), Jessica McDonald, Kealia Ohai
Substitutes Not Used: Jordan Day, Jen LaPonte
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Tiffany McCarty 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Tiffany McCarty 4); FOULS: 4 (Four players with 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Kealia Ohai 2); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Melissa Henderson 6); SAVES: 6 (Bianca Henninger 6)
Sky Blue FC: Brittany Cameron ©; Maya Hayes (Sarah Killion 81), Kristin Grubka, Lindsi Cutshall, Cami Levin; Taylor Lytle, Katy Freels, Hayley Haagsma, Kim DeCesare; Shawna Gordon (Meagan Morris 46), Nadia Nadim
Substitutes Not Used: Aubrey Bledsoe, Nikki Stanton, Maruschka Waldus, Lo’eau LaBonta, Theresa Diederich
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Nadia Nadim 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Nadia Nadim 2); FOULS: 12 (Nadia Nadim, Kim DeCesare 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Nadia Nadim 2); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Katy Freels 2); SAVES: 6 (Brittany Cameron)
SBFC: Kim DeCesare (caution) 68
Referee: Levi Rippy
Assistant Referees: Mark Boyko, Michael Piercey
Fourth Official: Artur Sibiga