Sky Blue FC Upset Houston Dash 2-0

Nadia Nadim, moments after scoring against the Houston Dash to bring Sky Blue the 1-0 lead. 8/7/2015. (Photo: Sky Blue FC)

By MC Bousquette
Staff Writer

Sky Blue FC surprised the Houston Dash at home notching a 2-0 victory to keep their playoff chances afloat.

Although Erin McLeod returned to goal after suffering knee lacerations against the Washington Spirit last week, a determined effort from the Canadian keeper and her back line was no match for the fired up Sky Blue attack. Nadia Nadim brought Sky Blue the first half lead, and Sam Kerr gave her squad cushion with a second half goal. Despite efforts from the Dash to retaliate, the Sky Blue defense held strong as keeper Brittany Cameron walked away with a well-earned clean sheet.

The first half began with a quick start from the Dash, as Kealie Ohai forced Cameron into her first save of the night. Sky Blue, however, showed an immediate quick pace from the start, retorting with a series of attempts, ending with a hard shot from Katy Freels just over the crossbar in the 23rd minute. Melissa Henderson retaliated a few minutes later, forcing Cameron to parry another volley as the defense cleared the attempt.

As both sides aggressively battled back and forth, Nadia Nadim ultimately put Sky Blue on the board for a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute off a connection from Cami Levin.

Houston made a concerted effort to equalize, penetrating the box repeatedly at the conclusion of the second half. Henderson was back again, but mishandled the pass from Jessica McDonald. Carli Lloyd tried for another big goal, but missed a free kick wide of goal in the half’s final moments.

The first half ended 1-0 from Nadim’s goal, with neither side showing signs of letting up. The next half began with more action for Henderson, whose next attempt was stopped yet again by Cameron. Kelley O’Hara tried to service Freels in the 53rd minute, but Freels squandered the attempt. The Dash came close to evening up the match as Ohai found McDonald, but McDonald’s header nailed the crossbar.

An increasingly frustrated Houston had their next big chance ten minutes later. Lloyd sent Cameron diving to make the save off another free kick. The Dash attempted to find the missing piece in the 69th minute by substituting Tiffany McCarty for Henderson, which almost paid off just after she ran onto the pitch, but she missed her chip wide of goal.

Two minutes later, Kerr craftily made her way through the Dash defense, beating Ella Masar and then McLeod to give Sky Blue a 2-0 lead in the 72nd minute.

Sky Blue almost had a third, as O’Hara sent another solid cross in, but Lindsi Cutshall was unable to head the ball on frame to finish. O’Hara came back again in the 83rd, this time trying Nadim, who was shut down almost immediately by the Dash’s back line.

The Dash weren’t done yet, though, as Ohai sent a ball in to Lloyd, but Lloyd was unable to get her head on the ball well enough to break the shutout in the 90th minute. Lloyd had the final dangerous play of the game in the 94th minute, as she challenged Cameron one on one off a breakaway, but Cameron made a dynamic save to end the match.

Sky Blue FC leave Houston with a hard fought, well-earned three points to renew their playoff hopes.

Sky Blue FC take on the Chicago Red Stars next Wednesday, August 12th, at 2pm EST in Lisle, Illinois at Benedictine University.

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