The Houston Dash fell 3-0 on the road to the Chicago Red Stars at SeatGeek Stadium tonight to bring the team’s 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup to an end. The 2020 tournament champions managed a 2-4-0 (WLD) record and six points in the Central Division during group stage play.
Chicago took the lead in the 37th minute of the match after Penelope Hocking struck a right-footed shot from the left side of goal into the back of the net.
The Red Stars scored a second goal six minutes later after Casey Kruger crossed the ball into the box to Hocking, who found herself open in the middle of the box. The 23-year-old doubled her tally, scoring the left-footed shot from the top of the six-yard box.
Chicago added a third goal in the 50th minute when Yuki Nagasato managed to get a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Jane Campbell from near the penalty spot. Despite being initially ruled offside, a lengthy review by head referee Karen Callado determined the goal was good.
Campbell was called into action early in the match after Casey Kruger took a shot from outside the left side of the penalty box. The veteran goalkeepr punched the ball out of danger over the cross bar, ending ended the night with five saves.
Campbell made another crucial stop in the 25th minute after Hocking was able to find her way deep into the box. Defender Lindsi Jennings managed to slow the Chicago attacker’s run to reduce the threat and allow her goalkeeper to keep the match scoreless.
Forward María Sánchez nearly scored in the 30th minute of the game after the Chicago defense turned the ball over on its side of the field. The 27-year-old took the shot at the top of the box, but the ball carried just over the crossbar.
Houston had its best chance of the first half in the 36th minute after a turnover in the final third of the field by Chicago. Midfielder Marisa Viggiano picked the ball and slotted a pass to forward Diana Ordóñez, who had her initial strike saved. The Houston attacker managed another quick attempt on the rebound but was unable to find the back of the net.
The Dash appeared to have scored in the 49th minute after midfielder Joelle Anderson’s shot made its way past Red Stars goalkeeper Emily Boyd. The goal was disallowed after Ordóñez, who passed the ball to Anderson after receiving it from Sánchez, was ahead of the Chicago backline.
Houston had an opportunity to cut into the Chicago lead in the 60th minute after Sánchez served the ball up for Ordóñez, but the attacker’s header went just wide of the near post.
Houston had a second goal ruled offside in the 81st minute when defender Madelyn Desiano whipped a ball across the face of goal from the right side of the penalty box. The ball rebounded off the feet of Boyd and fell to a Dash attacker, who buried the ball into the back of the net. However, Desiano was ruled offside before the original pass.
The Red Stars won a penalty in the 90th minute when defender Courtney Peterson fouled Jenna Bike in the right side of the penalty box. However, Campbell stopped the shot from Arin Wright, diving to the left side of the goal to deny the Red Stars’ captain.
The Dash return to regular season play on Sunday, August 19, hosting the Washington Spirit at Shell Energy Stadium. Houston will be celebrating “Pups at the Pitch” night, presented by Nationwide Insurance. Fans can bring their favorite four-legged friend to the match, and the first 6,000 fans will receive a Dash bandana.