Ah, we meet again, Houston. You, at #9, and Boston, at #10. What else is there to say, really?
The last time these two teams met was at Jordan Field less than two weeks ago. Houston took Boston apart 3 to 1, with Boston getting a bit of a consolation goal at the end from Natasha Dowie.
Dowie has turned out to be the spark the team hoped she would be, not just in terms of getting the ball in the back of the net, but in being a tireless voice on the field. She’s become a great focal point for the attack, although this sometimes leads to too many long balls hoofed in her direction when the team would be better served having a little more patience. Still, it’s hard to blame them when Dowie has shown she can turn on a dime and leave defenders behind with a well-timed run to get in one on one with the GK.
Boston should hope for more of that against Houston; a win would give them some momentum going into their final game of the season, home against the Western New York Flash.
Honestly at this point it should be about fun too, although that statement in and of itself is an indicator of the progress the team has made. “Just have fun” is not something you could imagine telling any of these players in the first half of the season. But now that they’ve steadily accumulated some goals and have a few wins and solid ties tucked under their belt, yes, they should just have fun.
Especially since they’re out two key players on the back line, with Whitney Engen out injured (right hamstring strain) and Julie King out on yellow card accumulation. CKing would have been the most likely choice to shift inside with Kassey Kallman to cover for Engen, but now it’ll probably be Rachel Wood. Head coach Matt Beard may also consider shifting in Kylie Strom, or even moving to a three-back, as he tried earlier in the season with varying degrees of success. Christen Westphal is also dealing with an ankle sprain and is listed as probable for this game.
So the back line is partially scuppered and the season is almost over and the Dash are also eliminated from playoffs. Honestly, go have fun. This team deserves some fun after the hard work that went into rebuilding this season. And make no mistake, rebuild they have, although they were hampered somewhat by Beard having to navigate around the old structure and integrate it with the actual structure he had in mind. Perhaps in the offseason he’ll be able to completely dismantle the last of the rickety old framework and put in a new, smooth, solid foundation.
This concludes a run of five games in fifteen days, after which the team will finally be able to rest for almost two weeks. It’s been grueling coming in and out of Boston and trying to rotate the roster and managing injuries. Go have fun, guys. If that happens to result in a win, I’m certainly not going to complain.