The Houston Dash tied with the Chicago Red Stars in a scoreless draw tonight at BBVA Stadium in the opening match of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by Secret Deodorant.
Dash goalkeeper Lindsey Harris kept a clean sheet in her Dash debut, a feat that no other goalkeeper before her accomplished. The Austin native made a spectacular diving save in the 18th minute to deny Chicago center back Kayla Sharples. After a Chicago corner was initially cleared, the Red Stars cycled the ball back around to the right flank for a cross. Sharples ran onto it and volleyed it on target from six yards, but Harris leapt across her goal to snatch the shot out of the air.
The Dash appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the 57th when forward Katie Stengel found forward Veronica Latsko with a perfectly-placed cross which Latsko buried, but assistant referee Alicia Messer raised her flag for offside, judging Latsko to be just beyond the last defender.
Chicago put in a strong defensive effort of their own, but the Dash created several dangerous chances throughout the 90 minutes. Midway through the first half, Stengel and Latsko combined near the top of the penalty area, but the return pass to Stengel was a half step beyond her reach, ultimately forcing Chicago to concede a corner kick.
Forward Bri Visalli nearly curled in a beautiful shot in the 73rd minute, but her bending effort from the corner of the penalty area drifted just past the far post. Latsko had one more chance in the 90th minute, spinning at the top of the box to let loose a left-footed shot in transition, but her whirling effort rolled wide of the far post.
Dash right back Haley Hanson came up with a crucial defensive play in the 51st minute to maintain the shutout when she recovered smartly after being tripped up, hustling to regain position as Chicago threatened the Dash goal. Her hustle paid off when she cleared the ball off the goal line just before Red Stars forward Sarah Leubbert could get a toe to it.
The Dash will continue their Challenge Cup campaign on Friday, April 16 when they visit Tacoma, Washington to take on OL Reign.