The Houston Dash fell to the Portland Thorns in a penalty shootout tonight at Providence Park in the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup.

The Dash took the lead in the 17th minute off of a brilliant strike from midfielder Shea Groom. The Texas A&M alum received a pass from forward Rachel Daly on the left flank and took a smart touch to get around a defender before tucking a beautiful curling shot inside the far post and into the side netting.

Groom doubled the lead in the 41st, once again through Groom and Daly. Forward Veronica Latsko intercepted a diagonal pass just inside midfield and quickly found Daly. The forward played a one-touch diagonal pass through the back line to Groom, who slotted a left-footed shot into the corner of the net.

Portland pulled a goal back in the 51st minute off a header by midfielder Natalia Kuikka off of a corner kick. Midfielder Olivia Moultrie nearly leveled things two minutes later with a headed shot off of a cross from open play, but her effort caught the crossbar and went over for a Dash goal kick.

Moultrie found the net in the 58th minute with a curling free kick from 25 yards out that cleared the wall and dipped under the outstretched arm of Dash goalkeeper Amanda Dennis.

The match ended tied at two goals apiece, sending the teams directly into a penalty kick shootout to determine which side would advance to the final. Portland goalkeeper Shelby Hogan made three saves in the shootout to propel the home side into the final against Olympique Lyonnais on Saturday.

Dash goalkeeper Amanda Dennis had an outstanding night in her own right, making three saves in her second career start and another in the penalty shootout. Dennis came up with a massive save in the ninth minute to deny Portland forward Sophia Smith on a breakaway. Smith eluded a pair of Dash defenders to put herself into the box alone, but Dennis quickly came off her line and got her left hand on the shot to snuff out the threat. She added two more saves in the first half and another big play in the 67th minute to cut out a cross from Thorns forward Simone Charley before it could find its intended target and keep the game tied.

Daly was all over the pitch for Houston. In addition to her two assists, she came up with a huge play on defense in the 22nd minute to deny Portland a goal. The Houston captain was tasked with watching the back post on a corner kick and reacted quickly to leap and head a snapped shot from a Portland attacker off the line. She continued to play a key role on both ends, as her headed shot from inside the box in the 39th minute beat goalkeeper Shelby Hogan but caught the crossbar and bounced away.

Daly had a chance at the winner at the death, running on to a centering pass from Groom, but her momentum took her away from goal and she wasn’t quite able to turn the ball back on frame, missing just wide of the near post as the game went to penalties.

The Dash will take on reigning UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona on Saturday, August 21 at 6:30 p.m. CDT in the third place match of the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup.

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