by Brian Turrel
Kansas City NWSL’s defense shouldered the load on Sunday, but on Wednesday it was the offense’s turn, racking up three goals and holding Houston scoreless to set the team’s largest winning margin in its short history.
Darian Jenkins’ 18th minute goal was a thing of beauty. From 18 yards out on the left side, she curled the ball with a graceful arc into the far upper corner of the goal. Houston goalkeeper Jane Campbell leaped, but had no chance at a save.
After the game, Jenkins said that she had been practicing the shot and was happy to see it come into play during a match.
In the later stages of the first half, Kansas City stepped up its offensive intensity. Accurate passing in the build-up kept the home side in possession for extended runs.
In the 30th minute, Jenkins centered the ball for a header from Julie Bowen, but the shot was off target. Just after, Kiki Pickett took a shot up the middle saved by Campbell.
The pressure paid off in the 37th minute when Elizabeth Ball nodded in for a 2-0 lead and her first goal of the season. Julie Bowen set up the score with a free kick from the right side that dropped into a scrum of players about six yards out from the goal.
Kansas City didn’t give up on its attack after halftime, but the opportunities were fewer, with Houston clamping down on passing lanes.
A long range Addie McCain blast up the middle put a scare into the Dash in the 75th minute, ricocheting off the crossbar. In the 76th minute, Lo’eau LaBonta sent a well-placed cross into the box, but frustratingly couldn’t find a runner to finish it.
Kansas City scored the capper on a penalty kick in stoppage time. Jessica Silva earned the penalty when she beat the Houston defense and was fouled by Campbell. Lo’eau LaBonta took the kick and mashed a no-doubter into the lower left corner.
A climb up the NWSL standings now looks possible for Kansas City NWSL. Racing Louisville FC, loser in five of its last six, now sits just 2 points in front of Kansas City.
Kansas City’s next match will be at the Chicago Red Stars on Oct. 16. The next home match will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 against NJ-NY Gotham FC.