BOYDS – The Washington Spirit could not find their scoring touch as the Houston Dash earned a 2-1 road win in Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex in front of a sellout crowd of 5,500 fans on July 20.
While Houston (4-5-4) held the majority of the ball possession early, it was Washington who almost scored first when midfielder Andi Sullivan’s one-time volley smacked off the crossbar.
Later on, the Dash thought they scored the opening goal when striker Rachel Daly converted a long-range pass off a free kick. However, game officials determined that Daly was offside before gaining possession of the ball, erasing the goal and keeping the match tied through halftime.
After two weather delays during the break, the Spirit (5-4-3) fired with multiple shots on goal. They finally broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute when midfielder Jordan Dibiasi took advantage of a misdirected clearance of a Samantha Staab throw-in for a header to score her team-high fourth goal of the season.
The lead did not last long, as four minutes later, Houston responded. After Daly received a long pass from her defense, she chased down the ball before releasing a pass to midfielder Sofia Huerta. The attacking midfielder ran inside the penalty area and released a low pass to a wide-open Kristie Mewis for the tying goal.
In a free kick situation in the 72nd minute, Houston defender Amber Brooks outjumped the entire Washington’s defense to fire a header shot past goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe to give the Dash a 2-1 lead.
In the final minute of regulation, Sullivan was fouled in the penalty area, awarding the Spirit a penalty kick.
Striker Mallory Pugh, who was playing her first game back from the World Cup, kicked a low shot, but Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell made a diving save to preserve Houston’s lead. It was Campbell’s fourth save, as Washington lost its third straight game.
Following the game, the Spirit honored all five of their World Cup players, including Jamaican Cheyna Matthews; Americans Pugh and Rose Lavelle; and Australians Amy Harrison, Chloe Logarzo and Elise Kellond-Knight.
Lavelle, winner of the Bronze Ball Award as the third-best player in the tournament, did not play against Houston but will be available in Washington’s next game at Sky Blue FC on July 24.