The Houston Dash beat the Utah Royals on penalty kicks Friday night in the NWSL Challenge Cup quarterfinals. The fourth-seeded Dash won, 3-2, in the shootout after 90 minutes of scoreless play and advanced to face the eighth-seeded Portland Thorns in the semifinals. Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell made two saves during the shootout, including one to clinch the victory.
The two sides went to penalty kicks after a physical and choppy 90 minutes of play that featured 23 total fouls and six yellow cards (four for Utah and two for Houston). The Dash had more chances than the Royals, outshooting their opponent 9-4 in regulation, but just one of those nine shots was on frame. The scoreless action during regulation came less than three weeks after the two sides played a 3-3 draw in the preliminary round -- the highest-scoring game of the Challenge Cup.
There is no extra time in the Challenge Cup and this was just the second NWSL match to ever be decided by penalty kicks. The first came in 2016.
The NWSL quarterfinals continue Saturday to determine the rest of the semifinal field. The Washington Spirit face Sky Blue FC at 12:30 p.m. ET before OL Reign play Chicago Red Stars at 10 p.m. Every game from the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup is streaming on CBS All Access.
Dash 0, Royals 0 (Dash advance, 3-2, on PKs)
Utah Royals FC: The tournament hosts ended their Challenge Cup run in penalties. The Royals were unable to break through Houston's low block initially, which led to some disjointed and unbalanced play from the team in the first half. Utah got some good individual performances from Kate Del Fava and Mallory Weber, but players like Amy Rodriguez and Vero Boquete being largely neutralized by Houston. The Royals' adjustments didn't pay off, but their 3-5-2 impressed early on, and will likely be improved upon next season.
Houston Dash: The Dash played less direct tonight than when they last faced off against the Royals, but despite having less of the possession, they created more shots, and kept drawing fouls in a match that was mostly choppy. Playnig Nichelle Prince with Rachel Daly led to some good moments in the final third, including one chance from Bri Visalli, Campbell ended up being named Player of the Match after coming up with clutch saves in the shootout.