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Jul 22, 2020; Sandy, Utah, USA; Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly (3) and Portland Thorns FC midfielder Rocky Rodriguez (11) battle in the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
July 22, 2020
(Reuters) – The Houston Dash beat the Portland Thorns 1-0 on Wednesday to advance to the final of the NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah thanks to a late header by Rachel Daly.
A Houston corner in the 68th minute ricocheted off the crossbar and Daly pounced, diving to head the ball off the shoulder of Thorns keeper Britt Eckerstrom and into the net.
The Thorns, who upset tournament favorites the North Carolina Courage in the quarter-finals despite missing key players, were unable to break through Houston’s stout defense on an overcast day at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
Daly dedicated the win to the people of Houston, a city that has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everywhere in the world is struggling right now with this pandemic and the city of Houston has been through a really tough time,” said the Briton Daly, who also plays for the England national team.
“For us, it was for them – to give them something to look forward to,” she said. “I just want to say thanks for all the support.”
The pandemic forced the NWSL to pause its season in March before it returned with the Challenge Cup tournament last month.
The Dash will face either Sky Blue or the Chicago Red Stars, who play their semi-final later on Wednesday, in Sunday’s final.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond)