Houston Dash Defeats Portland Thorns In Yesterday’s Semi-Finals Match, Clutching Their Spot in Sunday’s NWSL Challenge Cup Final | By Jessy Holen
Yesterday, July 22, the Houston Dash and Portland Thorns battled to earn a chance at competing in the NWSL Challenge Cup Final this Sunday.
Proving to be a tight match from the first whistle, the Dash and Thorns fought extensively to each get a point on the scoreboard for the first 68 minutes of the game. Though Houston entered the competition as the underdog, its tight back line and aggressive front formation, with players like Rachel Daly and Kristie Mewis, resulted in a late goal for the Dash in the second half.
Though the Thorns started this match as the leading threat, the team lacked its crucial center defender, Becky Sauerbrunn, and midfielder, Lindsey Horan, due to injuries, as well as Tobin Heath due to her self-removal from the forefront of the tournament. Still, players such as rookie Morgan Weaver and veterans Christine Sinclair and Meghan Klingenberg filled the absence of the USWNT members with their pursuit on the pitch.
However, this wasn’t enough to come out on top. After 67 minutes of a tough battle comprised of close opportunities and great offensive plays and defensive saves by each team, Houston received a corner in the 68th minute that would seal its fate in the upcoming championship match. Mewis took the corner from the right flag, making contact with Sophie Schmidt’s head. Schmidt’s header nailed the cross bar, forcing Daly to get around her defender and insert the deflection into the goal with her head. Houston was up 1-0 with 22 minutes left in the match.
The remainder of the game was fueled on heightened emotion and eagerness from the Thorns to put a ball in the back of the net. Both Weaver and Sinclair were dynamic up top for Portland, posing a threat to the Dash defense, but Houston keeper, Jane Campbell, came up big with heavy saves.
Thorns keeper, Britt Eckerstrom, also held off Houston with aggressive mentality and the ability to come off her line and command control of her box, keeping Portland in the game.
Nonetheless, after the 90-minute match Houston left the pitch moving onto the finals this Sunday, while the Thorns exited the field in defeat.
Houston has not won an NWSL Championship since 2014, making its entrance into the NWSL Challenge Cup Final a big step for the club’s dominance in the League.
The NWSL Challenge Cup Final takes place this Sunday, July 26, at 12:30 p.m. ET.
About our Blog Contributor:
Hello! My name is Jessy Holen and I’m an alumni women’s soccer player for Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Since graduating in 2019 I have moved back home to Los Angeles in order to pursue my dream of becoming a talk show host. In my free time I love anything outdoors like camping, biking, the beach, and of course...soccer!