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Sky Blue Brings the Heat to Houston

Houston provided the high temperatures, but Sky Blue brought the heat in a 3-1 win over the Dash.

Midfielder Morgan Brian returned to the starting lineup for the Dash for the first time this season, with striker Nichelle Prince getting her first start up top as well. Sky Blue was without Kelley O’Hara but returned Christie Pearce. Houston began with the upper hand, working the ball up the field in some of the most patient build up play we’ve seen from them this year. But they were lacking with the final ball, and it would be Sky Blue who looked dangerous first, when midfielder Sarah Killion found herself with space in the box in the 16th minute but sent it off the crossbar.

Sixteen minutes later, forward Sam Kerr drew a penalty when she took a boot to the face inside the box from defender Bruna Benites. Killion took the penalty and put it away calmly for the third time this season.

Andressa made a return from injury for Houston after halftime, and at first it looked to be paying off when forward Janine Beckie, now pushed up from the midfield, sent one off the crossbar in nearly exactly the same spot as Killion. However, Sky Blue quickly took control of the game for long stretches. Less than ten minutes into the second half, they doubled their lead when Kerr flicked a beautiful no-look ball past Benites to a wide open Leah Galton, who burned the Dash backline with her speed. Forced into a 1v1, goalkeeper Lydia Williams came off her line but hesitated, and Galton was able to turn past her and send it into an open net.

Houston had their best chance of the game in the 70th minute off a corner kick. Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan came out to punch the ball away but missed, and Benites’ header looked destined for the back of the net until it met Mandy Freeman’s foot on the goal line.

Three minutes later, they found their goal, when forward Kealia Ohai drove endline, getting past defender Erin Simon and cutting a low cross back across the face of goal, where Poliana neatly flicked it past Sheridan.

Kerr put the game away for Sky Blue as it neared the end of regular time, splitting two defenders with a shot and beating her Matildas teammate Williams at far post.

{Read more: Point by Point: Week 5 Story Lines to Watch }


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