HOUSTON — As the race for one of the four playoff spots in the National Women’s Soccer League postseason tightens up in the final month, the Utah Royals FC could use every point they can muster to stave off half the league.
Friday’s match will go down as a missed opportunity, then.
Sofia Huerta scored a goal in either half, and the Dash handed Utah coach Laura Harvey her first loss in the city of Houston with a 2-1 win Friday night at BBVA Compass Stadium in east Texas.
The brace was the first time since August 2018 that Huerta has scored two or more goals in a match.
Gunny Jonsdottir scored a goal for the Royals (9-7-4, 31 points), who have yet to come back to win after conceding the first goal in the 2019 season.
Huerta gave the Dash (7-9-4, 25 points) a 1-0 advantage early, snapping a goalless drought that topped 100 minutes. The 5-foot-7 Boise, Idaho, native finished off a ball from Kristie Mewis in the 27th minute, giving Houston its first goal since a 2-1 loss to Sky Blue FC on Aug. 24.
Houston out-shot the Royals 6-5 in the opening 45 minutes, with two shots on target per club.
Huerta doubled the advantage just after the 60th minute with a splendid goal from the right side of the box that caromed off the underside of the crossbar and behind Utah goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart for the 2-0 advantage.
Royals midfielder Gunny Jonsdottir, a second-half sub who came into the match in the 60th minute, pulled one back for Utah in the 75th minute. After Lo’eau LaBonta’s shot attempt fell to Erika Tymrak, the Icelandic international ripped a shot that sailed over Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell to give the Royals a fighting chance, down 2-1 with 15 minutes to go.
Campbell made three saves to preserve the win for Houston.