Houston Dash defeated North Carolina Courage 2-1 on Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC, scoring goals from Shea Groom and Gabby Seiler. Kristen Hamilton scored for North Carolina.
Both teams played an entertaining first half with many glances in front of goal, as strikers on both sides made the defenders look slack in their position. North Carolina almost came first on the scoreboard in the opening minutes, but Jessica McDonald’s goal was offside in the third minute.
Houston stole the momentum just minutes later when Groom scored the opening goal. An interception by Veronica Latsko against Courage midfielder Angharad James then separated Courage center-back duo Diane O’Sullivan and Kaleigh Kurtz to give the Dash the lead in the 9th minute.
“They pushed us out great. I think we have to avoid the pauses that we experience in the middle of the game when our energy runs out. We are definitely fit enough to prevent that,” Kurtz said in the post-game comments. “I think Diane and I have room to build the chemistry – we haven’t played together since the Fall Series – but we share a similar style of defense and like to lead by example.”
Courage equalized with a goal from Hamilton in the 15th minute after Dash defender Katie Naughton failed, and the two sides went 1-1 at halftime. Houston’s winning goal came after a set piece by Seiler who scored her first NWSL goal.
Houston is now in third place. For North Carolina, the defeat is the second in a row, although the team still comes first as four different clubs are all tied by 16 points.
“I thought we were really great tonight, apart from the first 15 minutes of the second half – it looked like we stayed in the locker room,” said Courage coach Paul Riley.
“To be honest, the game should have gone to bed by half-time. Some may see our performance as poor, but I didn’t think it was that bad. They played the game very well after taking the lead, but we are tonight your own fault. “
Jessica McDonald, North Carolina: Put in a big 90-minute shift in the final third, but an early goal wasn’t recognized and couldn’t finish despite being a goal throughout the game. Rating: 6.5
Kristen Hamilton, North Carolina: Another experienced striker on the team who put herself in good positions for her teammates in dangerous spaces and scored the only goal. Rating: 7
Shea Groom, Houston Dash: Scored the opening goal and took up a lot of space on the pitch throughout the game. Got a yellow card in the 29th minute, but didn’t stop chasing after the game in midfield. Rating: 7
Veronica Latsko, Houston Dash: The striker was impressive in the absence of Houston’s signature attacking players. She scored the first goal for the Dash last week and took the assist at Groom’s Goal Against The Courage. Rating: 6.5
Houston hosts Portland Thorns FC at BBVA Stadium on July 24th. North Carolina will face Kansas City on July 23rd.