As 2017 pre-season is in full swing, the Portland Thorns host the 2017 Thorns Pre-Season Invitational. In the first game, the Houston Dash face off with the 2017 USWNT U-23 at Providence Park in Portland. Only four teams were invited this season: the Houston Dash, USWNT U-23, Chicago Red Stars, and of course, the Portland Thorns.
A Scoreless First Half
The Dash started the game off with a quick push towards the goal with Andressa, the Brazil midfielder, leading the charge. making a shot around 25 yards out that was collected quickly by Casey Murphy, a goalkeeper hailing from New Jersy.
The entire first half was dominated by the Dash but Murphy kept the U-23s in the game coming up with amazing saves. As halftime drew near, neither team were able to find the back of the net as they went into the locker rooms without a goal.
With the second half underway, the Dash made a change after the break as midfielder Caity Heap came in for the lively Andressa. The second half played a lot like the first at the beginning with action both ends, but with nothing to show for the efforts. As minute 73 comes, the U-23s have a big push out of the back half, making their way up into striking zone.
The first goal finally came in the 74th minute thanks to Savannah McCaskill, a forward out of South Carolina. It took two shots with Bianca Henninger making a spectacular save initially, but the rebound landed right back at the feet of McCaskill who drilled the ball into the back of the net. The game settled back down after the brecakthrough with the only action stemming from a couple of substitutions happening.
Houston fights back late
With only minutes left on the clock and the score still 0-1 with the U-23s still on top, it looked like the Dash would be handed a loss. Minute 88 brings a 40-yard pass from the midfield up to Bruna Benites, a defender from Brazil, who drops one in to bring the Dash back even at 1-1 during minute 89. The ref adds four more minutes of stoppage time so there is still time for one of the teams to pull ahead.
The Dash did just that in the fourth minute of stoppage time with a goal coming off a corner. Defender Stephanie Ochs sent a beautiful ball into the box and midfielder Amber Brooks snuck her effort past the goalkeeper at the near post to give the Dash the 2-1 lead.
The U-23s did not get another chance with the whistle blowing just seconds after the go-ahead goal. They played hard and almost came out with the win, but with two late goals, the Dash started the invitational off on the right foot by claiming the three points.