For much of the opening half, Houston held Sky Blue (6-8-7) in check but in the 39th minute all that changed as Danish international Nadia Nadim burst through two Houston defenders to get a foot on the ball from Maya Hayes and give Sky Blue the early lead.
“We made mistakes here and there and it changed the game,” said Houston head coach Randy Waldrum following the match. “We just had those moments. Take those moments out and we might have a win tonight. A microcosm of our season.”
Houston (5-14-3) which had two solid scoring opportunities (Becky Edwards 12’ and Kealia Ohai 16’) prior to the Nadim’s goal had Melissa Henderson’s apparent equalizer waved off for offsides just five minutes.
In the second half, the Dash ratcheted up the pressure as Ohai and Edwards had chances to tie the game in the 53nd and 54th minutes of play. A Houston corner in the 58th minute wound up hitting the side netting on a header by defender Osinachi Ohale.
On the opposite end of the pitch, Dash keeper and captain Erin McLeod was busy keeping Sky Blue form extending its lead with a one and swat in the 63rd minute and a kick save less than a minute later.
After Sky Blue keeper Jillian Loyden smothered a Jordan Jackson effort, the New Jersey eleven countered with a ball over the top that forced Dash defender Ari Romero to pull down midfielder Katy Freels. The ensuing yellow card gave SBFC a free kick just outside the box on the near side. Freels delivery found Nadim whose header caromed off McLeod’s hand and ricocheted off the far post into the net.
Undaunted the Dash continued to fight and in the 86th Austrian striker Nina Burger found the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season. It was an unusual sequence that cut the deficit to 2-1. Jackson delivered a corner into the box that Loyden attempted to bat over the crossbar but instead bounced off the crossbar to Marissa Diggs whose header was redirected into the net by Burger.
The Dash continued to press and just when it appeared that they may salvage the tie, Nadim struck again on another counter attack in stoppage time to secure the game for Sky Blue FC. For Nadim, it was her fifth goal in five games since joining SBFC on loan from Fortuna Hjorring.
“I got great balls from my teammates and (I am) just trying to be sharp in front of the goal,” said a happy Nadim about her goal peformance. “It’s awesome scoring. I love it, it’s a nice feeling.”
The win temporarily keeps SBFC’s playoff hopes alive as they travel to Sahlen Stadium for an August 13, 2014 match with the Western New York Flash.
Houston closes out their inaugural season next Sunday with a visit to the last place Boston Breakers.