Three Houston Dash players will return from national team duty this weekend, led by goalkeeper Bianca Henninger, who returns to BBVA Compass Stadium with a gold medal from the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games. Defender Clare Polkinghorne and forward Kyah Simon will conclude their participation in the Tournament of Nations with Australia this evening.
Henninger secured her first major tournament victory with the Mexican Women’s National Team on Monday after she came on as a substitute in the 46th minute of Mexico’s 3-1 victory over Costa Rica in the gold medal game. Starting goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago suffered an injury early in the first half but played through the pain to make it to halftime with Mexico down 1-0 before Henninger took over after the break.
It only took four minutes for Mexico to turn the score around and seal the victory. The comeback started when forward Charlyn Corral fired a 20-yard left footed shot to tie the game. Mexico took the lead in the 62nd minute when defender Kenti Robles headed a corner kick into the net, and forward Kathelyn Johnson scored the third goal of the night in the 63rd minute. Costa Rica tried to even the score with long shots and crosses, but they were often stopped by Henninger or by El Tri defenders. The goalkeeper finished with one save in 45 minutes of work to help lead her country to gold.
This was the second appearance of the tournament for the Dash goalkeeper. Henninger started in a 4-0 win over Nicaragua in group play. This was the only clean sheet for Mexico in active group play as they were awarded a 3-0 victory due to Haiti's forfeit during the tournament. The San Jose, California native first joined El Tri in 2015 for training camps and featured in the final roster for the 2016 Four Nations Tournament in China, but did not make her debut until February 2017 against Canada. Before representing Mexico, the goalkeeper played for various levels of the U.S. Women’s National Team youth program. Henninger made the switch to Mexico in 2015 and is eligible to play for El Tri through the Mexican nationality of her mom.
Polkinghorne, Simon and Australia defend their Tournament of Nations title tonight as they face Japan at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. Australia look to avenge their 2018 AFC World Cup Qualifying final loss to Japan earlier this year and need a victory to remain in the race for the title. The Matildas are tied with the U.S. Women’s National team for first place, so Australia can win the tournament through various scenarios but a victory and favorable goal differential will ensure that the Aussies repeat as Tournament of Nation champions.
Henninger, Polkinghorne, Simon and the Dash will return to BBVA Compass Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday to host Christen Press and Utah Royals FC for the club’s inaugural Salute to Women’s Veteran match, presented by Sasol.
A special Salute to Women Veterans ticket package is available and includes one ticket to the game as well as a $5 donation to Trauma to Triumph - The W.A.V.E. Campaign, aimed at supporting homeless women veterans in Texas, for only $19. For tickets and additional information, visit HoustonDashSoccer.com/Salute.