The Spirit opened with an explosive offense, scoring first in the 4th minute. Jodie Taylor swept in from the far side to make a play on the ball rolling to Dash goalkeeper Erin McLeod. McLeod made an aggressive move away from the goal to keep the ball from Taylor’s feet. As McLeod stood and watched the Dash defense work to gain control of the ball, Spirit point maker Diana Matheson did what she does best: she put a boot to the ball and sailed it into the open net.
What seems to have become a home field routine with the Spirit has not changed: they open with an early score and concede a goal to the opposing team a short time later. Eight minutes after the Spirit’s goal Houston Dash player Nina Burger easily slipped a well-centered pass from Kaylyn Kyle past Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, tying the game at 1-1.
It would be 26 minutes before another goal would be scored. A pass to Taylor proved again that she is not to be left alone near the net as she put the ball past McLeod. The Spirit’s 2-1 lead carried through to half time.
The second half opened with the Spirit getting a workout on defense. The back four worked hard, moving the ball cross-field and feeding to the midfielders. Midfield play by the Dash was not to be taken lightly – at midfield, Dash players would take advantage of any Spirit error and get the ball back.
During the 75th minute of the second half Dash player Stephanie Ochs, a former Washington Spirit player, connected on a corner kick with fellow Dash player Osinachi Ohale in the middle of the back at the net. Before the Spirit had a chance to react Ohale headed the ball into the goal, tying the score at 2-2.
As the clocked ticked up to 90 minutes, the 4th referee called for an additional minimum of three minutes of stoppage time play. Both teams kicked it into high gear. A palpable excitement came from the field as both teams pursued a chance to score with limited amount of playing time left. Spirit player Christine Nairn scored a phenomenal unassisted goal to the top corner of the net, sealing the Spirit’s win at 3-2.
During a postgame interview, Matheson commented on what a tough game it was for the Spirit mid-fielders and defense. Diana said of the Dash, “They had good midfield movement. They had people like Kaylyn Kyle and their other midfield players always running in behind which always causes the back four trouble.”
When questioned about her missed penalty shot in the second half Matheson responded “I didn’t hit it very well, I knew where I wanted to go with it and I just didn’t hit well at all. You cannot do that against a keeper like Erin McLeod because she is going to save it every time.”
This game marked the Spirit’s fourth win of the season. With standings at 4-4-1, the Spirit is fifth in the league – a long way from last year’s place at the bottom of the standings.