Utah Royals FC scored twice in the final fifteen minutes at BBVA Compass Stadium Sunday night against Houston Dash, reversing an 0-1 halftime deficit to capture three critical points in the club’s 2018 playoff pursuit. Forward USA star Christen Press provided the spark with a 77th-minute equalizer, while a pair of second-half substitutes – forwards Katie Stengel and Erika Tymrak – created the 83rd-minute game-winning goal.
In an evenly-played first half, Houston took the lead just before halftime on a set-piece goal. In the 41st minute, Sofia Huerta took a free kick from 40 yards out, putting it beyond the Utah defense at the far post. There, Veronica Latsko got her head to the ball and knocked it toward the opposite post. Utah Barnhart got a piece of it, but not enough to keep it from bouncing and spinning into the net to give Houston the 1-0 lead.
Press scored her second goal of the season in six games for Utah since arriving in late June from Sweden, pressuring a Dash defender into a turnover atop the box and quickly stunning the Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell near-post to tie the match at 1-1 and give Royals FC hope. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart also made four saves to secure three points as Utah returns home for two more matches to complete the upcoming three-match week.
Just minutes later, it was substitute striker Stengel providing her club-high fourth goal of the season, chipping Campbell with her left foot after Tymrak – also appearing off the bench – scooped the eventual assist over the Dash backline to send Stengel in alone. As a result, Utah captured its first-ever come-from-behind win in club history, Royals FC posting an 0-5-1 mark previously when conceding the first goal.
Utah Head Coach Laura Harvey – now 11-0-1 all-time against Houston during her career with Seattle and Utah – saw her side win the season series with the Dash with Sunday night’s victory, vaulting over Houston into sixth place overall in the NWSL table with five games remaining. Utah chases Chicago, Orlando and Portland in the race to the top four in the table, playing three of its final five games against Washington and Sky Blue – who have a combined 2-26-8 mark this season.
The win leaps Utah Royals FC into sixth in the NWSL standings, four points behind the Portland Thorns, currently in the fourth and final playoff spot. Three of the five remaining Royals FC regular-season games will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium, including two this week, as Washington Spirit (2-13-4, 10 pts.) arrives Wednesday for an 8:00 p.m. MT kickoff in Sandy, while Seattle (9-4-6, 33 pts.) – one of the six teams battling for three spots to join 2018 Shield winner North Carolina in the postseason – visits the Wasatch Front Saturday at 1:30 p.m. MT in the Lifetime NWSL Game of the Week. Tickets for both critical home matches are available at www.UtahRoyalsFC.com/Tickets.
Utah Royals FC plays consecutive home games this week, first hosting the Washington Spirit on Wednesday (8 p.m. MT) before meeting the Seattle Reign on Saturday (1:30 p.m. MT) at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Match: Utah Royals FC at Houston Dash
Date: August 5, 2018
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium; Houston, Texas
Weather: Clear and 86
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
Utah Royals FC 0 2 2
Houston Dash 1 0 1
HOU: Veronica Latsko (Sofia Huerta) 41’
UTA: Christen Press 77’
UTA: Katie Stengel (Erika Tymrak) 83’
Utah Royals FC (4-3-3): Nicole Barnhart; Katie Bowen, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rachel Corsie, Becca Moros; Gunny Jónsdóttir, Katrina Gorry (Katie Stengel 68’), Lo’eau Labonta; Diana Matheson (Erika Tymrak 58’), Amy Rodriguez (Taylor Lytle 74’), Christen Press.
Subs not used: Abby Smith, Samantha Johnson, Sydney Miramontez, Brittany Ratcliffe.
Houston Dash (4-4-2): Jane Campbell; Taylor Comeau, Amber Brooks, Clare Polkinghorne, Allysha Chapman; Linda Motlhalo, Veronica Latsko (Kiyah Simon 46’), Kealia Ohai, Sofia Huerta; Rachel Daly, Nichelle Prince (Thembi Kgatalana 81’).
Subs not used: Sammy Jo Prudhomme, Lindsay Agnew, Michaela Hahn, Haley Hanson, Savannah Jordan.
Stats Summary: UTA / HOU
Shots: 9 / 16
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 4 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 3 / 5
Offside: 8 / 3
HOU: Sofia Huerta (Caution) 48’
Referee: Rosendo Mendoza
Assistant Referee 1: Walter Heatherly
Assistant Referee 2: Laura Rodriguez
Fourth Official: Kyle Phillps