BRIDGEVIEW, Ill.—The Houston Dash finished their 2015 season with a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Red Stars at Toyota Park on Sunday afternoon.
Ella Masar scored in her second consecutive game to give the Dash the lead, but Christen Press respond late in the second half for Chicago to split the points. With the tie, the Dash finish the NWSL regular season in fifth place, four spots higher than their 2014 campaign. The club also set records in wins (6), points (24) and goals conceded (26).
Houston nearly jumped out in front in just the fifth minute of play when mdfielder Carli Lloyd hustled to intercept a poor back pass to Red Stars goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc. Lloyd attempted to poke the ball past LeBlanc with her first touch, but the Canadian had closed down the space and blocked the shot.
The Dash called goalkeeper Erin McLeod into action in the 25th minute. Forward Christen Press played a ball for midfielder Lori Chalupny down the right side of the penalty area, but McLeod covered the angle and made a diving stop on the shot.
Houston turned up the heat on the Chicago goal in the second half. Carli Lloyd had close range shots blocked and caught in the 57th minute, and forward Jessica McDonald had a first-time shot on a Tiffany McCarty cross saved from point blank range.
Masar provided the edge in the 62nd minute. Midfielder Morgan Brian played a perfectly weighted ball in front of Masar to get behind the Red Stars defense. With LeBlanc beginning to come off the line to close her down, Masar picked out the far corner and rocketed a shot to the upper 90 to score against her hometown team. It was her second consecutive goal in her second start at forward this season.
Five minutes later, the Dash would have doubled their lead if not for a spectacular defensive effort from the Red Stars. McCarty, a first half sub for the Dash, rounded LeBlanc on a breakaway and looked to have an open net to score. Midfielder Danielle Colaprico, however, hustled back and slid just in time to cut out the goal-bound shot.
Chicago, who finishes second in the league table, didn’t go away quietly. After a set piece was partially cleared, a shot came through the Dash penalty area and took a deflection that put it towards goal. Defender Meghan Klingenberg stood alert on the line and cleared the danger with ease.
The Dash weren’t so fortunate as the clock wound down. A Dash defender tried to launch a clearance from just outside the penalty area, but the ball deflected off another player and fell directly behind the defense to Red Stars defender Julie Johnston. She found Press standing seven yards from goal, and the USWNT striker found the back of the net for the equalizer.
Houston Dash (6-8-6; 24 points) at Chicago Red Stars (8-3-9; 33 points)
NWSL regular season
September 6, 2015 – Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
Houston Dash: Ella Masar 2 (Morgan Brian 3) 62
Chicago Red Stars: Christen Press 10 (Julie Johnston 2) 90
Houston Dash: Erin McLeod; Allysha Chapman ,Toni Pressley, Ellie Brush, Meghan Klingenberg; Andressa, Morgan Brian, Carli Lloyd; Melissa Henderson (Tiffany McCarty 37), Jessica McDonald (Rachael Axon 78), Ella Masar © (Camila 89)
Substitutes Not Used: Bianca Henninger, Jen LaPonte
TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Carli Lloyd 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 11 (Ella Masar, Carli Lloyd 3); FOULS: 4 (Four players tied with 1); OFFSIDES: 2 (Tiffany McCarty 2); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Andressa 3); SAVES: 8 (Erin McLeod 8)
Chicago Red Stars: Karina LeBlanc; Michelle Lomnicki (Samantha Johnson 46), Abby Erceg, Julie Johnston, Arin Gilliland; Adriana Leon (Melissa Tancredi 69), Danielle Colaprico, Lori Chalupny, Vanessa DiBernardo; Jen Hoy (Rachel Quon 81), Christen Press
Substitutes Not Used: Michelle Dalton, Cara Walls, Mary Luba
TOTAL SHOTS: 19 (Christen Press 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 10 (Christen Press, Lori Chalupny 2); FOULS: 7 (Arin Gilliland 2); OFFSIDES: 6 (Christen Press 3); CORNER KICKS: 10 (Vanessa DiBernardo 7); SAVES: 9 (Karina LeBlanc)
CRS: Vanessa DiBernardo (caution) 85
Referee: Margaret Domka
Assistant Referees: Nick Uranga, Khalaf Al-Latayfeh
Fourth Official: Edgar Osorio