The Houston Dash defeated the Portland Thorns by a final score of 3-2 on Wednesday night at Providence Park. The win marks the first win for the Dash in Portland since May 23, 2015, and it moved the Dash above the playoff line and into fourth place in the league table with four matches remaining.
This was the first game for both teams since the NWSL postponed five games over the weekend due to the gravity of the events that transpired in the league over the last week. In a sign of solidarity, both teams halted the game in the 6th minute and the players came together to form a circle at midfield for a moment of silence.
The Dash broke the scoring open in the 18th minute after forward Nichelle Prince drew a penalty kick and forward Rachel Daly converted it. The play began with an interception from midfielder Shea Groom, who passed the ball to Prince near the top of the penalty area. The Canadian international created space for a shot that caught the elbow of Thorns defender Becky Sauerbrunn. Daly, in her first game back from international duty, calmly shot the ball past the Portland keeper who dove the opposite direction in the 18th minute.
The Dash doubled their lead in the 23rd minute after a free kick from the edge of the attacking third was headed out by Portland. The ball fell to the feet of defender Haley Hanson, who lobbed a volley over the Portland defense and midfielder Kristie Mewis dashed in and stuck her foot out to knock the ball past the Portland goalkeeper and give the Dash a 2-0 lead.
The Thorns quickly pulled a goal back, as midfielder Lindsay Horan hit a low cross to forward Christine Sinclair in the 30th minute that Sinclair put into the back of the net for the first goal of the day for Portland.
After a stalemate in the first ten minutes of the second half, Portland broke through with the equalizer when Horan once again found a teammate in a dangerous attacking position. This time it was forward Sophia Smith on the other end of the pass, as she got in past the Houston defense to tie the game at two goals apiece in the 57th minute.
The Dash retook the lead in the 79th minute after an offensive possession that was catalyzed by a corner kick from Mewis. The midfielder’s corner reached midfielder Sophie Schmidt at the back post, where she settled the ball at her feet and was able to perfectly bend a pass to Daly, who headed the ball in for her second goal of the match.
The brace extended Daly’s scoring streak to three straight NWSL appearances and added to her franchise-record scoring record, which now stands at 31 in league play.
The Houston Dash return home on Sunday, Oct. 10 at 6:00 pm CDT when they take on the North Carolina Courage at BBVA Stadium. For tickets visit http://houstondash.com/tickets.