Wilf Thorne / Houston Dash

Houston Dash forward Melissa Henderson announces retirement

Houston Dash forward Melissa Henderson today announced her retirement from professional soccer after three seasons in the NWSL.

"It's bittersweet for me to announce my retirement from a game that I've loved so deeply since the day I was introduced to it,” Henderson said. “I am forever grateful to all the experiences soccer has given me throughout my life and career thus far. I have been blessed to play with and against some of the most talented, charismatic, and driven players in the world. I've also been able to play for some of the most world-class organizations and coaches there is.

“The love I have for all my teammates, opponents, fans, and coaches is unending. Thank y'all for pushing me to not only be a better player but a better person as well. I will continue to strive to be the best leader and role model in whatever plans the Lord holds for my future.”

Henderson, 26, made 29 appearances (22 starts) and tallied two assists in one and a half seasons with the Dash. Houston acquired Henderson via trade from FC Kansas City in July 2014. Henderson made 22 regular season appearances (16 starts) with FCKC in 2013-14, and scored one goal in the 2013 NWSL playoffs.

This is a difficult time for me personally, as I’ve watched Melissa grow from a youth player, to a player for me at Notre Dame where we won a NCAA National Championship together, to a pro player for me here in Houston, and now this move into the next phase of her life,” Dash head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I’m going to miss Melissa not only for her soccer playing ability, but also for the quality person that she is and what she brings to our team both on and off the field. I am so happy for Melissa and am thankful for the time I¹ve had to coach her all these years. I hope the Dash family lets her know how much we have appreciated her.”

The Garland, Texas, native was a four-year letterwinner under Waldrum at the University of Notre Dame. Henderson finished her Notre Dame career tied for the fourth-most goals in school history (70) and led the Fighting Irish to the 2010 NCAA National Championship. She was a two-time first team All-America and three-time first team All-Big EAST selection. Henderson also earned Big East Offensive Player of the Year and was first runner-up for the Hermann trophy during her junior year in 2010. As a junior at Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas, Henderson was named Gatorade High School Player of the Year.