Houston Dash 3-3 Utah Royals: First draw of the tournament as King rescues a point
Photo Credit:(Gettyimages/Alex Goodlett)

A Rachel Daly double and Shea Groom's curling effort were not enough to earn Houston Dash a first win in the NWSL Challenge Cup as Tziarra King rescued a late point for Utah Royals.

The Dash switched off in the final minutes as King found herself totally free at the back post with so much time she could take a touch before finishing in the six-yard box.

Story of the game

Diana Mattheson opened the scoring with a simple tap in after 34 minutes.

Daly levelled things up in first-half added time.

Daly doubled Houston Dash's lead one minute into the second half.

Groom gave the Dash a two-goal lead as she found the far corner after 68 minutes.

Veronica Boquete found the bottom corner with eight minutes left from a free-kick.

Tziarra King found herself unmarked at the back post to nod in an equaliser in the 89th minute.

The first chance of the game came after 14 minutes via a Daly free-kick as she picked out Katie Stengel at the back post but was denied at blank point range by Abby Smith.

Boquete was next to try her luck as she took aim from 25-yards out but saw her dipping effort tipped over excellently by Jane Campbell.

In the 21st minute, Brittany Ratcliffe should have put Utah Royals ahead as Amy Rodriguez picked out her strike partner in space seven-yards out but Ratcliffe was on her heels and saw her effort go agonisingly wide.

With just over 10 minutes left in the first-half, the Royals took the lead as Lo’eau LaBonta threaded a great ball through for Rodriguez who picked to Mattheson who couldn't miss and got her first goal of the NWSL Challenge Cup.

Veronica Latsko latched onto a long ball down the right before picking out Daly who set herself up eight-yards out taking one touch before smashing a half volley past Smith who was left with no chance.

With the final play of the half, Rachel Corsie got onto the end of Boquete's free-kick which had Campbell back peddling but luckily saw it drop onto the roof of the net from less than five yards.

Daly scored with the first chance of the second half as Kristie Mewis' corner was met by Daly who headed past Smith from close range leaving the keeper with no chance once again.

Daly scored in the 46th minute of the first half as well as in the 46th minute of the second half which puts her as the top scorer.

In the 52nd minute, Mewis won possession in Utah's final third and elected to shoot from the edge of the box instead of sliding in Daly for a hat-trick and her effort was put behind for a corner when it should have been a goal.

Just on the hour mark, Daly blocked Smith's kick before latching onto it and slotting into the empty net. However, it was disallowed for what seemed to be signalled as an offside despite that not being possible, much to Daly's concussion and frustration as she was denied a hat-trick.

Another long ball caught out Utah and Stengel held the ball up excellently before picking put Groom who finished first time from the edge of the box with a curling effort into the far corner.

After Megan Oyster was penalised for handball on the edge of the box Boquete picked her spot and curled one past Campbell into the bottom corner from the free-kick in the 82nd minute to set up a tense finish.

Heading into the final stages of the games a free-kick was whipped into the back post where King found herself with all the time in the world as no Dash players tracked her run allowing her to nod past Campbell.

Takeaways

Daly ready to go again

After missing the majority of last season because of the World Cup Daly seemed fit and ready to get the goals the Dash desperately missed last season.

This was the first time Houston managed to score more than two goals in a game under James Clarkson and he will be hoping Daly can keep up the form she showed in this match.

She was denied a deserved hat-trick in the second-half before coming off injured but it seemed to be a precaution and if she can stay fit the Dash could be on course for a great season.

A success both on and off the pitch

With over 18,000 viewers on Twitch and the highest-scoring game of the tournament so far the NWSL Challenge Cup seems to be a huge hit.

With friendly kick-off times for overseas fans who were treated to a goal-fest which included a super effort by Groom.

It's a great way for the players to regain their fitness while making it competitive to give players and teams to compete and take part.

Player of the match

Rachel Daly was excellent when she was needed by Houston and unfairly denied a hat-trick which would have been the perfect way to kick off her tournament.

Her movement and intelligence was a level above many players on the pitch and she showcased her ability to finish on the volley and her movement and execution of her header was fantastic.

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