The new-look Houston Dash came into the first match of the NWSL season wanting to prove a point, and did that emphatically with a 2-0 win over the Washington Spirit at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Offseason acquisition Carli Lloyd thumped in the opening goal in first half stoppage time, and sophomore Kealia Ohai put away the second goal five minutes into the second half to cap an impressive attacking display from Houston.
Washington was dealt an early blow in the match when defender Ali Krieger had to be stretchered off the field after a 17th minute collision with Jessica McDonald. Krieger, the Spirit captain and a U.S. Women's National Team regular, was taken to Houston Methodist Hospital and diagnosed with a mild concussion.
- WATCH: Full match replay
Despite only having two practices with the full roster leading into the match, head coach Randy Waldrum's side continually looked dangerous going forward. The midfield trio of Lloyd, No. 1 draft pick Morgan Brian and English signing Rachael Axon controlled the tempo brought themselves into the attack with the forwards to challenge the Spirit backline.
Six minutes into seven total of first half added time due to Krieger's injury, Lloyd gave the Dash the lead they had worked for. Working to her right just outside the box, the USWNT star found a slight opening and unleashed a shot that ricocheted off the underside of the crossbar, off the turf and finally over the goal line.
Houston came out of the gates in the second half with the same attacking mindset. In the 50th minute, Ohai pounced on a heavy touch from center back Megan Oyster 25 yards from goal. The Dash forward muscled her way into the box and cleanly slid the ball under goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris to double the lead.
Washington had a chance to pull a goal back in the 77th minute when Christine Nairn found herself alone on the outside of the box with a clear look at goal, but the midfielder couldn't pick out her target and the shot whistled just wide of the far post. The Dash kept their foot on the gas peddle until the final whistle to earn their first win and first shutout of the new season.
Both teams return to action next Saturday, April 18, as the Dash travel to New Jersey to face Sky Blue FC and the Spirit welcome FC Kansas City for their home opener.
Houston Dash (1-0-0; 3 points) vs. Washington Spirit (0-1-0; 0 points)
NWSL regular season
April 10, 2015 – BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Houston: Carli Lloyd 1 (unassisted) 45 + 6
Houston: Kealia Ohai 1 (unassisted) 50
Houston Dash: Bianca Henninger; Ella Masar ©, Nikki Cross, Stephanie Ochs, Meghan Klingenberg; Carli Lloyd, Rachael Axon (Ashley Nick 88), Morgan Brian; Melissa Henderson (Stephanie Roche 75), Jessica McDonald (Tiffany McCarty 77), Kealia Ohai
Substitutes Not Used: Megan Kinneman, Carleigh Williams, Jordan Jackson, Cami Privett
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Kealia Ohai 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Kealia Ohai 2); FOULS: 9 (Ella Masar, Morgan Brian tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Kealia Ohia 1); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Stephanie Ochs 6); SAVES: 2 (Bianca Henninger 2)
Washington Spirit: Ashlynn Harris; Ali Krieger © (Estelle Johnson 25), Katherine Reynolds, Megan Oyster, Whitney Church; Amanda DaCosta (Crystal Dunn 58), Victoria Huster, Christine Nairn, Joanna Lohman; Laura Del Rio (Angela Salem 65), Estefania Banini
Substitutes Not Used: Kelsey Wys, Caprice Dydasco, Alex Singer
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Christine Naim, Laura del Rio tied with 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Whitney Church, Joanna Lohman tied with 1); FOULS: 3 (Whitney Church, Estefania Banini, Amanda Da Costa tied with 1); OFFSIDE: 2 (Laura del Rio 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Christine Nairn 3); SAVES: 5
HOU: Ella Masar (caution) 71
Referee: Katja Koroleva
Assistant Referees: Corey Richardson, Jennifer Garner
Fourth Official: Kyle Phillips