The unbeaten streak almost ended, but Frannie Crouse‘s first pro goal in her NWSL debut saved a depleted Courage team from a road loss to the Houston Dash on Sunday night in Week 10. Crouse’s goal came in the 80th minute to tie the game 1-1 on a hot night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Courage are now 9-0-3, tied for the second-longest unbeaten streak to start a season with the 2016 Thorns, who started with 12 games unbeaten (7-0-5). The longest unbeaten streak to begin an NWSL season came in 2014 when Seattle Reign FC went 13-0-3 before losing. The Courage are well ahead in first place, 12 points clear of the second-place Reign.
The Courage were without six of their regular starters in the game. McCall Zerboni — who had played every minute before this game — as well as Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Merritt Mathias and Abby Dahlkemper were called into U.S. women’s national team training camp ahead of next week’s friendlies and missed the match. Denise O’Sullivan, who is on international duty for Ireland, also missed the match.
Yuri Kawamura and Cari Roccaro took the Zerboni/Mewis spots in the center of the midfield. Kaleigh Kurtz swapped into the center back spot with Elizabeth Eddy at right back. Meredith Speck started on the left wing in the midfield.
But it was Crouse, in her pro debut, who rescued the Courage. Eddy served a cross into the box and Crouse won the initial header. The ball bounced off a Dash defender and Crouse let it bounce once in front of her before roofing a left-footed shot over Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell to equalize.
— NWSL (@NWSL) June 4, 2018
Crouse came into the game for Speck in the 63rd minute. The rookie was selected with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft and signed with the team on March 23. She did not appear in any games and was waived on May 28th to make room for Kawamura’s return from the disabled list. Crouse was then signed as a national team replacement player on the 31st for this weekend’s game.
Dash rookie forward Veronica Latsko, who has scored two late game-winning goals this season, had a chance to make it three in the 85th minute, but her shot went wide and out of danger.
After a scoreless first half, Kealia Ohai broke through for the home side with her second goal of the season, and second in two games. Campbell served a long ball forward and into the final third for Ohai, who beat Roccaro and sent her shot past Katelyn Rowland to give Houston a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute.
— NWSL (@NWSL) June 4, 2018
The goal was the Dash’s first-ever goal against the North Carolina Courage. They’d been shutout in each of their previous three meetings.
The Dash were missing Kristie Mewis, who was suffered a knee injury last week and will miss the remainder of the season.
The Courage took just eight in the match and three on target. They earned just two corners on the night as well.
The draw comes at the end of a four-game road trip for North Carolina with the Courage going 3-0-1 in those games. All three of the Courage draws this season have come with the team trailing late and scoring in the 75th minute or later to keep the unbeaten streak alive. Dunn, Zerboni and now Crouse have all scored late-game tying goals this season.
For the Dash, the loss drops them to 3-4-5 (14 points) after a strong performance in May that saw them go 3-1-2.
Both teams will get a rest as the NWSL heads into the FIFA break. The Courage will host Utah Royals FC on Saturday, June 16. The Dash won’t be in action again until Friday, June 22, when they host Portland Thorns FC.