Houston Dash defeated North Carolina Courage 2-1 on Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, getting goals from Shea Groom and Gabby Seiler. Kristen Hamilton scored for North Carolina.
Both teams played an entertaining first half with multiple looks in front of goal, as strikers on both sides made defenders look lax in position. North Carolina nearly got on the scoreboard first in the early minutes, but Jessica McDonald’s goal was ruled offside in the third minute.
Houston stole the momentum just minutes later as Groom scored the opening goal. An interception from Veronica Latsko off Courage midfielder Angharad James then split the Courage centerback duo of Diane O’Sullivan and Kaleigh Kurtz to put the Dash ahead in the 9th minute.
“They did a great job of forcing us out wide, I think we need to avoid the lulls that we run into in the middle of the game where our energy drops. We’re definitely fit enough to prevent that,” said Kurtz in postgame comments. “I think Diane and I have room to build chemistry – we haven’t played together since the Fall Series – but we have similar styles of defending and like to lead by example while we play.”
Courage went on to equalize with a goal by Hamilton in the 15th minute after a failed clearance by Dash defender Katie Naughton, and the two sides entered halftime tied 1-1. Houston’s winning goal came off a set piece from Seiler, who scored her first NWSL goal.
Houston is now in third place. For North Carolina the loss is their second consecutive, though the team still remains in first place as four different clubs are all tied on points with 16.
“I thought we were really great tonight, except for the first 15 minutes of the second half — it looked like we’d stayed in the locker room,” said Courage coach Paul Riley.
“In all fairness, the game should’ve been put to bed by halftime. Some might look at our performance as a poor one, but I thought it wasn’t all that bad. They managed the game very well after taking the lead, but we only have ourselves to blame tonight.”
Jessica McDonald, North Carolina: Put in a strong 90-minute shift in the final third but had an early goal disallowed and wasn’t able to finish despite being a target throughout the match. Rating: 6.5
Kristen Hamilton, North Carolina: Another veteran forward for the team who got into good positions for her teammates in dangerous spaces and scored the lone goal. Rating: 7
Shea Groom, Houston Dash: Scored the opening goal and continued to cover tons of space on the pitch throughout the match. Picked up a yellow card in the 29th minute, but didn’t stop chasing after the game in the midfield. Rating: 7
Veronica Latsko, Houston Dash: The forward has been impressive in the absence of Houston’s typical attacking players. She scored the opening goal for the Dash last week and picked up the assist on Groom’s goal against the Courage. Rating: 6.5
Houston will host Portland Thorns FC at BBVA Stadium on July 24. North Carolina will be away on July 23 to face Kansas City.