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Washington Spirit falls 1-0 to Houston Dash in defensive battle

BOYDS, MD (April 29, 2017) – The Washington Spirit (0-2-1, 1 pt) came up just short in a 1-0 loss to the Houston Dash (2-1-0, 6 pts) on Saturday night at Maureen Hendricks Field, in front of 3,154 fans.

Dash team captain Kealia Ohai netted the only goal of the match in the 28th minute, bursting down the left side of the field before settling and burying a shot into the far right corner of the net. Houston had a strong first half, controlling nearly 55 percent of the possession and racking up 204 total passes with 75 percent accuracy. Houston outshot Washington 13-9 overall and had six shots on target to the Spirit’s one.

Washington turned things around in the second half, controlling nearly 63 percent of the possession and piling up 182 passes with a superior 74.2 percent accuracy rate. The defensive prowess of Spirit defenders Estelle Johnson, Shelina Zadorsky and Whitney Church was on full display, as they held the Dash to 57.4 percent passing accuracy after the intermission. Church led all players with three blocked shots, while Johnson had a game-high six tackles won.

Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé racked up five saves in the loss, not only stopping all but one of the shots she faced, but also proactively closing out on attacking players and diving on the ball as they entered the box to prevent several other Dash scoring chances.

“Houston came out with a good game plan in the first half, so a lot of credit to them,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “I thought we played much better in the second half. Our defense and our goalkeeping has been very good. It’s been a constant for us.”

Over the course of the full 90 minutes, Washington controlled 53.1 percent of possession to Houston’s 46.9 percent, and completed 351 total passes (73.2 percent accuracy) to Houston’s 319 total passes (68.7 percent accuracy).

Washington’s newest signing, U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team forward Crystal Thomas, played 25 minutes in her NWSL debut, coming on for Lindsay Agnew in the 65th minute.

The Spirit will finish out its two-game homestand next Saturday, May 6 as Sky Blue FC is set to visit Maureen Hendricks Field. [Tickets]

Tickets for all Spirit home matches are available now at https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com 

NWSL Match Report
Match: Washington Spirit vs. Houston Dash
Date: April 29, 2017
Venue: Maureen Hendricks Field
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Attendance: 3,154
Weather: Clear

Score
WAS: 0
HOU: 1

Goals
WAS: None
HOU: Kealia Ohai (28′, Bruna Benites)

Washington Spirit: Stephanie Labbé, Shelina Zadorsky (c), Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Kassey Kallman, Line Sigvardsen Jensen (74’, Meggie Dougherty Howard), Tori Huster, Alyssa Kleiner (45’, Arielle Ship), Lindsay Agnew (65’, Crystal Thomas), Havana Solaun, Francisca Ordega

Subs not used: DiDi Haracic, Cameron Castleberry

Houston Dash: Lydia Williams, Janine van Wyk, Cari Roccaro, Bruna Benites, Camille Levin, Janine Beckie (89’, Cambria Privett), Denise O’Sullivan, Amber Brooks, Kealia Ohai (c) (90’, Poliana), Sarah Hagen (76’, Nichelle Prince), Rachel Daly

Subs not used: Caity Heap, Jane Campbell, Melissa Henderson, Claire Falknor

Stats Summary
(WAS / HOU)
Shots: 9 / 13
Shots on Goal: 1 / 6
Saves: 5 / 1
Corner Kicks: 5 / 3
Fouls: 7 / 6
Offside: 1 / 0

Misconduct Summary
WAS – None
HOU – Bruna Benites (59’, Yellow Card)

Officials
Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referee 1: Ben Pilgrim
Assistant Referee 2: Jeremy Weed
Fourth Official: John Jr Griggs