A record-breaking season for the Houston Dash came to an end this evening with a 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Current at PNC Stadium in the quarterfinals of the NWSL Playoffs. This was Houston’s first postseason experience after finishing fourth in the league table and the team closed the season with a 10-7-6 mark.
Today’s match was played in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,284, a number that shattered the previous attendance record for a Dash match set in 2015, when Houston hosted the Chicago Red Stars in front of 13,025 fans, and was the second-largest crowd ever to watch a professional woman’s game in Texas. The only larger crowd in the Lone Star State was 23,176 for the U.S. Women’s National Team against Mexico at the Cotton Bowl on Nov. 2, 2003.
The Current took the lead in the fifth minute after Dash center back Katie Naughton was called for a foul at the edge the penalty area. After consulting with the assistant referee, center referee Elijio Arreguin pointed to the penalty spot, and Kansas City captain Lo’eau LaBonta converted the penalty to give Kansas City the early lead.
Houston equalized in the 21st minute off a corner kick from forward Maria Sanchez. Her cross was initially punched away by the Kansas City goalkeeper and the ball fell to midfielder Sophie Schmidt at the far post. The Canadian international beat the goalkeeper with a first-touch volley with her left foot, smashing her shot through traffic and into the opposite side netting.
Kansas City punched their ticket to the semifinals on the final kick of the match in the 10th minute of stoppage time. A cross from Alexis Loera deflected off a Dash defender and fell to Kate Del Fava, who scored the game-winning goal.
Although the final scoreline will not reflect it, Houston controlled the run of play for much of the contest and outshot Kansas City 20-6 on the afternoon, including 14 shots in the second half.
Houston nearly scored in the 41st minute to take a lead into halftime after Kansas City attempted to clear a ball that fell to midfielder Marisa Viggiano. The 25-year-old took a shot from outside the box that forced a diving save from Current goalkeeper A.D. Franch at the bottom corner of the far post.
Houston generated the first opportunity of the second half as Sanchez forced a save from Franch with an effort just outside the box in the 53rd minute. The Mexican international then hit the post minutes later with an effort from long range.
Houston continued to knock on the door as Naughton nearly scored in the 58th minute off a corner kick off from Sanchez, sending her header went just wide of the near post. Immediately after the goal kick, Houston forced a turnover in the attacking third and Dash forward Ebony Salmon, who led the team in regular season scoring, forced another save from Franch.
Houston’s final opportunity came in stoppage time when Michelle Alozie won the ball near the endline and forced a save from the Kansas City shot stopper at the near post.
The Dash return to PNC Stadium in 2023 for their 10th campaign in the National Women’s Soccer League. For news, tickets and additional information, visit HoustonDash.com.