A pair of second half goals from Estefania Banini and Ashley Hatch were not enough as the Washington Spirit fell to a surging Houston Dash side 3-2 Sunday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
With the loss, the Spirit fell to 2-6-2 (8 points) as the Dash improved to 3-4-4 (13 points). Houston is now undefeated in its last four contests and has won two straight.
The final 45 minutes featured 12 shots on target between the two sides, four of which hit the back of the net. Houston forward Rachel Daly netted the game winner for the home side as Banini scored the first of two goals for Washington.
For as offensive as the second half was, the first half featured two total shots, one for each team which were both late in the half. Washington’s shot came from Andi Sullivan who weaved through several Dash defenders but sent her shot wide left in the 44th minute.
The lone first half shot from Houston was not only on target but found the back of the goal. Daly scored her third goal of the season and the first of two on the night when she drilled home a cross from the left side from Nichelle Prince in first half stoppage time.
The first half featured five minutes of eventful stoppage time which resulted due to an injury to Dash midfielder Kristie Mewis. Mewis initially went down in the 12th minute to where she would eventually be subbed off in the 19th minute due to a leg injury. The stoppage time featured a yellow card to Francisca Ordega, the second of two cautions issued to Spirit players (Meggie Dougherty Howard, 5th minute).
Mallory Pugh entered the contest for Washington following halftime to replace Mallory Eubanks. Before she would make an impact, Houston midfielder Kealia Ohai scored in the 46th minute to give the Dash a 2-0 lead.
In the 51st minute, Pugh would make her impact by drawing a penalty in the box after being taken down due to her quick footwork. However, her ensuing penalty kick was saved by Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell, one of two saves she had on the evening. Three minutes later, Banini put the Spirit within one following controlling a cross from the right side from Taylor Smith who lifted the ball to a wide open Banini who was able to place the ball in the lower corner for her first goal of the season.
The score would remain the same until Daly scored her second goal of the evening. After a Spirit turnover at midfield, Thembi Kgatlana and Daly found themselves all alone behind the Spirit defense and were able to maneuver around Spirit goalie Aubrey Bledsoe for a breakaway goal for Daly, her fourth goal of the season.
In stoppage time, the Spirit gained a goal back as Hatch intercepted a ball deep in Houston territory where she finished her third goal of the season. The final whistle blew minutes later without the Spirit being able to muster another goal scoring chance.
The Spirit returns home to the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday, June 2 when the team takes on the Chicago Red Stars on the Lifetime NWSL Game of the Week at 3:30 pm.
Top: Estefania Banini (10) scored in the second half of the Spirit’s road match against Houston on Sunday night. File Photo.
Next: Ashley Hatch (33) intercepted a ball deep in Houston territory and earned her third goal of the season. File Photo
File photos by Germantown Pulse.