The first NWSL playoff match for both the Houston Dash and the Kansas City Current was settled by a 100th-minute goal by Kate Del Fava for the 2-1 victory. With the quarterfinal win, the Current will move to the semifinals versus the OL Reign
Kansas City was missing captain Desiree Scott for a red card in the last regular season match. Rookie Alex Loara filled in for Scott at the defensive midfield spot instead of her normal position on the backline.
The Dash lineup.
Alex Loera played a ball into Kristen Hamilton who was taken down by Dash defender Katie Naughton as she crossed into the box. After a small delay, the referee pointed to the spot and veteran Lo’eau LaBonta stepped up to the spot. Labonta had taken almost every penalty for Kansas City this season and true to form, she buried her attempt past Jane Campbell in the 5th minute.
And of course, Labonta had to lead a celebration for her first goal in her first playoff match.
THE CELLY TEAM STRIKES AGAIN pic.twitter.com/TqU2hpYBiq— KC Current (@thekccurrent) October 16, 2022
With the lead, the game slowed down a bit but the Houston started to gain momentum and forced a corner opportunity. Mexican international Maria Sanchez took the kick that the Current gave away. Sanchez’s effort was initially pawed away by AD Franch but it fell to Houston’s Sophie Schmidt to launch a left-footed half-volley to the near corner.
The game went to halftime level at 1-1 but the stats were primarily in Houston’s favor. The Dash had more shots, possession, passes, and accuracy but Kansas City had remained strong.
Shortly after the second half started, Claire Lavogez was injured when the French attacker was taken down in a tough tackle. Elyse Bennett came in for Lavogez in the 51st minute. Bennett is a normal second-half sub for Current head coach Matt Potter but definitely came in earlier than expected.
As the match wore on, Kansas City became stronger, especially after the hydration break but it was far from one-sided. Both teams were going for it and were creating opportunities going into stoppage time. One of the best chances came in the 94th when Bennett crossed into the box just past Houston keeper Jane Campbell but the ball also just avoided Cece Kizer’s foot in front of the open goal. The Dash countered quickly and ended up one-on-one with Franch who came up big for at least the fourth time in the match.
With the game going back and forth, the Current created a turnover allowing a give-and-go from Loera to Labonta and back again allowing Loera to drive to the endline. Loera’s cross found Kate Del Fava crashing the box where she knocked it home for the game winner right before stoppage time ended. It was Del Fava’s first goal of her NWSL career.
No choreographed celebration for Del Fava but pure joy was expressed.