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Utah falls out of NWSL Challenge Cup to Dash on penalty kicks

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Utah Royals FC lose to the Houston Dash on penalty kicks as the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup run ends.

2020 NWSL Challenge Cup - Quarterfinal - Houston Dash v Utah Royals FC Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Utah had their first knockout round game of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup that resulted in a penalty kick loss to the Houston Dash.

Utah started the game with the three-man backline again, most notably having US international Kelley O’Hara starting her first match of the tournament.

Right off the bat, Utah found a good shot from the foot of Vero Boquete, but it was saved. Utah came out strong from the start, but gave up a big opportunity after Abby Smith fouled Rachel Daly at the top of the 18-yard box. Smith was shown a yellow and conceded a free kick, but Houston was unable to capitalize and the score stayed 0-0.

Moments later, Kristie Mewis fouled Kelley O’Hara and was also shown yellow for her challenge.

In the 13’, Utah was forced into an early sub when Elizabeth Ball went down with an injury. Utah brought on Gunny Jonsdottir as her replacement.

After the injury sub, these two teams really settled into the game. It became pretty back and forth, but heading into hydration break number one, neither team was able to truly get a good look at goal.

Houston had the best look of the half as Nichelle Prince’s shot rang off the crossbar in the 39th minute. A few minutes later, Mallory Weber would get a shot off for Utah, but it went out for a corner, and Utah was unable to capitalize on. This one headed to halftime 0-0.

Coming out of the half, Utah knew they needed to make some changes, subbing out O’Hara and Diana Matheson for Katie Bowen and Aminata Diallo who both solidified the defense and provided an offensive spark for Utah Royals FC.

Despite the subs, Houston was strong in the start of the second half. The game grew physical as both Boquete and Amy Rodriguez got talking to’s from the center referee for altercations.

Utah found a handful of looks around the 63’ minute but still was unable to get a shot on frame. In the 65’, Utah used their final sub to bring on Tziarra King for Britt Ratcliffe.

In the 80th minute, Tziarra King was shown yellow, and then just moments later in the 81st minute, Corsie was shown yellow for bringing down Rachel Daly at the top of the 18-yard box. The attempt went just wide and the game stayed 0-0.

As regulation time ended, Boquete went down with an apparent injury but was able to walk it off and continue to play as Utah headed into the five minutes of stoppage time.

For almost the entirety of stoppage time, Houston had Utah pressed into their own half but never found the back of the net. For the first time in club history, Utah Royals FC headed to a PK shootout.

Amy Rodriguez set Utah off on the wrong foot, hitting the crossbar as Smith goes the wrong way, and Houston goes up 1-0 in the first round. LaBonta hits hers, matched by Houston as Corsie misses hers, and Daly capitalized on hers. Utah found themselves in a must-score situation.

King scores. Smith makes a save. But, at last, Campbell saves Boquete’s shot, and Houston finds their way onto the semi-final. Utah’s season would end after a 0-0 draw that turned into a 3-2 penalty kick loss.