The Houston Dash came into an unprecedented tournament having never made it to the NWSL playoffs. A month later they now leave the bubble site in Utah with their first Challenge Cup trophy and league championship.
The Dash defeated the Chicago Red Stars, 2-0, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sunday. A fifth-minute penalty kick gave Houston the early lead it was able to hold and add on to in stoppage time.
The league was the first United States professional league to return to play during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no positive COVID-19 cases during the league’s month-long tournament.
Dash get on the board in 5th minute
The fourth-seeded Dash struck first with Sophie Schmidt, a member of the Canadian national team, converting a penalty kick. It was Schmidt’s first goal of the tournament.
Kristie Mewis drew the foul, but left the match later in the first half due to an apparent injury. She clearly did not want to come out. The CBS broadcast later said her left hamstring was treated and she returned to the bench.
Red Stars nearly equalize in 15th minute
The Red Stars, the 2019 runner-up to the North Carolina Courage and No. 6 seed in the tournament, nearly equalized 10 minutes later.
Bianca St. Georges put a shot on goal that Naeher bounced off and Savannah McCaskill’s header hit the right goal post.
Dash ice it in stoppage time
Shea Groom finished it off in the first 34 seconds of a five-minute stoppage time. She took a pass near midfield and got around goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher for an easy shot and score. Rachel Daly was given the assist.
Daly was named the tournament MVP during the match. She won the Golden Boot with three goals and two assists.
A @Lionesses that has roared loud since the very first minute of play in Utah 🦁@RachelDaly3 is the Most Valuable Player, presented by @budweiserusa, award winner. #NWSLChallengeCup pic.twitter.com/xUFg9p99tY— NWSL (@NWSL) July 25, 2020
The Houston defense and goalkeeper Jane Campbell did not allow a goal in the knockout rounds.
Who is the NWSL Best XI?
The league announced its Best XI at halftime of the final. Houston’s Daly and Groom were both named to the team, as was Julie Ertz and Casey Short for the Chicago Red Stars.
Four Courage players were named to the team, though the No. 1 seeded squad was bounced in the first knockout round by the Portland Thorns. Debinha, Lynn Williams, Abby Erceg and Jaelene Daniels were all on the Best IX.
Lindsey Horan and Britt Eckerstrom (Thorns) and Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) were also named to the team.
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