There must be something about Friday the 13th and a full moon that affected the game between the Utah Royals FC and Houston Dash.
The Royals were on a roll, having not suffered a loss in five straight games. On the flip side, the Dash had lost two straight and given up five total goals in that span.
But strange things happen on strange nights sometimes, and that was the case for Utah on Friday. The Royals lost 2-1 to the Dash, giving up two goals for the first time since Aug. 3 after conceding only one in the last five games.
“We didn’t turn up tonight,” coach Laura Harvey said. "From the warmup you could sense that we just were not quite right and we never got going, we didn’t put enough pressure on the ball. When we had the ball we didn’t show our quality. Overall, just not good enough.”
Adding to the weirdness, Sofia Huerta had a brace for Houston while Gunnhildur Jonsdottir scored for Utah. Huerta hadn’t scored scored two goals in over a year, and it was Jonsdottir’s first goal since March 25, 2018, the first game in Royals franchise history.
Houston’s win secured the season series over Utah, which lost an opportunity to create a little separation in the National Women’s Soccer League standings. The Royals remained in the fourth and final playoff spot, but there are still a weekend’s worth of games for the rest of the league.
Huerta opened the scoring in the 27th minute for the Dash. With the ball in the box, Utah attempted to clear the ball out of danger but couldn’t get into good enough position to do so. Kristie Mewis flicked the ball with her back heel to Huerta, who scored with her right foot and gave Mewis her first assist of the season.
Huerta secured her brace on a transition opportunity in the 62nd minute. She got a pass from Rachel Daly and dribbled up the right side of the field. Her shot toward the near post went over Royals goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, hit the crossbar, then dropped down and past the goal line for a 2-0 lead.
The Royals pulled one back 13 minutes later with the help of two of their subs. After Lo’eau LaBonta’s shot was blocked, midfielder Erika Tymrak picked up the ball and softly passed to Jonsdottir, who curled a right-footed shot into the goal.
“I think we stepped it up a little bit in the second half, answering back with that goal,” midfielder Desiree Scott said. "But it was a complete battle tonight and a few things went wrong on the ball. We’re going to have to look to figure out what we do.”
In the 85th, Christen Press rocketed a shot on goal, but Dash keeper Jane Campbell reacted quickly enough for the win. The Dash were able to hold off Utah until the final whistle.
Houston seems to have become something of a streak-buster for Utah. The Dash snapped URFC’s three-game win streak to start the 2019 season in a 2-1 result on the road. On Friday, the Dash put an end to the Royals’ five-game unbeaten streak.
Utah will face Houston in the final game of the season on Oct. 12 at Rio Tinto Stadium.