A day after celebrating the fifth anniversary of its opening, BBVA Compass Stadium made its debut in the NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week as the Houston Dash fell 3-1 to Sky Blue FC in front of 5,369 fans on Saturday afternoon. The loss drops Houston to 2-3-0 on the season, while Sky Blue improves to 2-2-1.
After falling into a two-goal deficit, the Dash furiously fought to get back in the game late, pulling a goal back and having three shots either hit the post or saved off the line, before Sky Blue iced the victory in the 87th minute.
Sky Blue opened the scoring in the 33rd minute by virtue of a penalty kick by midfielder Sarah Killion. The penalty was awarded when Dash forward Nichelle Prince, tracking back in defense, was whistled for a high kick inside the penalty area while attempting to clear a ball. Killion calmly stepped to the spot and passed the ball into the lower right corner of the net as Dash goalkeeper Lydia Williams guessed the wrong way.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 53rd minute on a counterattacking goal by MF Leah Galton. Sky Blue FW Sam Kerr picked up the ball near midfield and drew two Dash defenders before playing a no-look pass behind the defense for Galton to run on to. The midfielder had no one to beat but Williams, and after rounding the ‘keeper she put a left-footed shot high into the back of the net.
Houston pulled to within a goal in the 76th minute when captain Kealia Ohai dribbled to the end line and pulled the ball back toward the penalty spot. Defender Poliana stepped into the path of the ball and calmly slotted a right-footed shot into the lower right corner of the goal for her second of the year.
Kerr put the result on ice in the 87th minute with a right-footed shot past Williams. After a long free kick, forward McKenzie Meehan fed Kerr, who smoothly collected the pass and rifled a shot into the net.
Dash midfielder Morgan Brian made her first start of the season after missing the first three games of the year due to a knee injury and making her season debut as a substitute last week at Chicago. Brian went 61 minutes in the game before giving way to Poliana.
The Dash had four golden chances in the second half that came inches away from finding the net. Forward Janine Beckie came close in the 48th minute, rocketing a right-footed shot off the crossbar from 18 yards out. Beckie collected an attempted clearance by Sky Blue of a Brian cross and her shot had Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan beaten, but the ‘keeper’s best friend came to Sky Blue’s rescue.
Ohai worked free for a shot in the 61st minute, firing a low shot to the far post, but Sheridan was able to get down and smother the shot without giving up a rebound. Eight minutes later, Brazilian midfielder Andressinha unleashed a long-range blast from 25 yards out that forced a stellar diving save from Sheridan at her right post. On the ensuing corner kick, Dash defender Bruna rose up to meet the ball and drove her header into the turf at the goal line, but Sky Blue defender Mandy Freeman was able to save the ball off the line by stabbing her right foot out just in time.
The Dash and Sky Blue will face one another again next weekend in New Jersey thanks to a scheduling quirk. The Dash return to Houston on Saturday, May 27 to host Seattle Reign FC when the club will celebrate the men and women who serve our country at home and abroad on Honoring Our Heroes night.