First Touch

Gotham FC Lose To Houston In Battle For Play-Offs

 NJ/NY Gotham FC fell 2-0 to the Houston Dash on Sunday at Red Bull Arena. Despite the result, Gotham FC still has the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot in the upcoming weeks, with two remaining matches, including the final regular season home game on Oct. 15.

Esther Gonzalez
Esther Gonzalez battles with Houston defender Natalie Jacobs. Photo by John Jones USA TODAY Sports

Gotham FC 0 Houston Dash 2

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The physical match was a battle from the opening whistle. Gotham FC had the first opportunity on goal in the third minute when forward Lynn Williams drove to the top of the eighteen-yard box, cut the ball back to her right foot, and fired a shot to the far post. Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell denied the shot with a diving save before Williams took another chance later in the half –  this time from about 30 yards out – that was also saved by Campbell, tipping the ball around the goalpost.

In the final moments of the first half, Houston forward Michelle Alozie scored five minutes into stoppage time to give the Dash a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

Despite the scoreline, Gotham FC dominated first half possession by a margin of 64 percent to Houston’s 36 percent.

Second Half

The home team entered the second half with a fierce attacking mindset, adding World Cup champion Esther González  to the attacking front. The home side nearly found an equalizer in the 64th minute from a Midge Purce corner. The service found rookie Jenna Nighswonger for a first-time strike that ricocheted in traffic before landing at the feet of González, whose touch went just wide of the near post.

Then, the Dash added to their tally In the 67th minute, when Alozie converted her second goal of the match for the 2-0 scoreline.

Gotham FC’s determination to cut the lead never wavered with several chances as the match came down to the wire.  In the 90th minute, González settled the ball with a smooth touch to spin her defender and quickly fired a shot, but the goalkeeper again made the save to keep the game scoreless.

Then, in the first minute of stoppage time, Gotham FC had a prime opportunity to halve the deficit. Nighswonger served in a corner that bounced around the box and off the crossbar that eventually fell to Purce, who headed the ball into goal. However, following video review, the goal was called back for offsides.

Just moments later, González put Gotham FC in yet another position to score, drawing a foul in the box, which awarded the team a penalty kick. Nighswonger stepped up to the spot and drilled a shot that hit inside the post back into play. Following ten minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew, resulting in a 2-0 Houston Dash victory.

Despite the loss, Gotham FC’s offensive effort was outstanding. In the second half alone, the team fired off 20 shots compared to Houston’s two, and the home side with eleven corner kicks earned. Gotham FC also controlled 72% of ball possession and outpassed Houston 168-61.

Line Up

Mandy Haught, Ali Krieger, Kristen Edmonds (84’ Kelley O’Hara), Maitane Lopez, Jenna Nighswonger, Nealy Martin (61’ Bruninha), Delanie Sheehan, Sinead Farrelly (84’ Ifeoma Onumonu), Lynn Williams, Midge Purce, Katie Stengel (46’ Esther González)

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Next Game

Gotham FC will look to clinch a spot in the 2023 NWSL Playoffs as it travels to play the Portland Thorns on Oct. 7 with kickoff at 5 p.m. ET.

Madge Purce
Madge Purce is tackled by Houston midfielder Sofie Hirst. Photo by John Jones USA TODAY Sports
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