Houston Dash Rookie Ally Prisock Sees Starting Lineup
Rancho Cucamonga HS and USC star Ally Prisock is now taking on the world’s best soccer players in the National Women’s Soccer League. The first year pro has started eight games for the Houston Dash, who selected her with the 12th overall pick in the 2019 NWSL draft last January.
At the center back position, Prisock faces the best strikers in the game. For instance, Carli Lloyd and Sky Blue FC came to Houston in July. You may remember that Lloyd led the US Women’s National Team to the 2015 World Cup, where she scored six goals and won the Golden Ball trophy for best player. Lloyd also played a part in repeating as World Cup champions in 2019.
In the first minute of the game, a pass swung around Houston’s back line to Prisock. She hiccuped her first touch and Lloyd came streaking in, took the ball and broke away toward the goal. This was every rookie’s nightmare.
“It was horrible,” Prisock said later. “It happens. You’ve just got to bounce back.”
She ran after Lloyd with fellow defender Amber Brooks coming over to help, and together they cleared the ball away to prevent a shot. Phew!
Sky Blue attacked repeatedly in the opening ten minutes as Houston found themselves on their heels. Prisock, however, made a strong clearance and a tackle to thwart every chance.
Then, twenty minutes in, Houston cycled another ball to Prisock the back line. Lloyd again charged at the rookie. But this time Prisock avoided the trap. With a subtle feint she hopped up field into open space and saw Rachel Daly open. Prisock sailed in a perfect pass that Daly struck in for Houston’s first goal, leading to a 1-0 victory.
“I do that a lot, that little hip thing,” Prisock said of her deke that caught Lloyd off balance. It was a sweet redemption after giving the ball away earlier. The assist marked the first point of her professional career.
She wears number 23, as she did at USC. The number’s significance goes back to her childhood. “I really love Michael Jordan,” she confessed. She also admires LeBron James and Megan Rapinoe as “really good athletes who are also doing something outside their sport,” as she put it.
Far From Home
Houston is far from Southern California, and one off-field challenge has been living away from home for the first time. “I’ve never been away from California for this long.” When asked her impression of Houston, she said, “It’s definitely different from home. It’s hot, very humid!” In making the comparison Prisock couldn’t help blurting out, “I love L.A.”
It is clear that home is on her mind. She can be seen wearing Trojans gear abroad, like a hooded sweatshirt and a backpack. “I’m a proud alumni” she boasts. Her 2016 USC team won a national championship under coach Keidane McAlpine. Current teammate Jamia Fields now braids her hair for gameday, but Ally will reminisce about her fellow Trojan Jalen Woodward, who did that sisterly duty. “She used to do it a certain way.” The life of a professional footballer is no Arcadian college campus, but the rookie defender takes it all in stride.
Music has been one source of bonding between Prisock and team leader Rachel Daly, who smiled as she described the rookie’s “wonderful music choice.” Prisock said of Daly, in turn, “this girl has the best music, in case you want to know.” Since rock ’n roll, music has bridged the cultural gap across the pond, so it is no surprise that the English attacker and the Californian defender can harmonize around hip-hop.
Prisock is living her version of “Love & Basketball,” a 2000 movie about a USC basketball star who plays professionally in Spain after graduating, but eventually comes home to L.A. “That’s one of my favorite movies,” she admits. Los Angeles does not yet have an NWSL club, so for now she’ll have to find her Hollywood ending in Houston.
This Season’s Final Stretch
The Dash’s starting lineup could change in the last quarter of the season. Australian Claire Polkinghorne started the season at center back, but left for national team duty at the World Cup, which gave Prisock an opportunity. With Polkinghorne back and the team’s performance teetering, coach James Clarkson might decide to change the lineup.
Nothing is likely to disturb Ally Prisock, who keeps an even keel. “I try not to get too high or too low.” That’s an important quality for a defender, and rare for a rookie. Soccer Analyst Jen Cooper, of Keeper Notes, observed that Prisock did not show the nerves common for first year players.
The Dash next face the Orlando Pride on Saturday August 10 at 4:30pm PT, which can be seen on Yahoo Sports. NWSL games regularly stream for free on Yahoo Sports, with special games on ESPN networks.