While many were worrying about the NBA bubble and the MLB’s opening weekend, the Houston Dash was busy winning a national championship. On Sunday in Utah, the Bayou City’s very own women’s pro soccer team won the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League Challenge Cup, besting the Chicago Red Stars 2-0.
The monthlong tournament marked the start of the first professional sports league in the U.S. to resume competition in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The Challenge Cup began on June 27 with eight of the nine NWSL club teams after Orlando Pride reported six positive COVID-19 cases on its team and withdrew from the competition. All players were quarantined during the competition to prevent future spread of the virus, and tournament rules were adjusted accordingly (including eliminating extra time play).
The Houston Dash were not expected to win when the Challenge Cup began last month. FiveThirtyEight predicted the Bayou City club had a 7-percent chance of winning. Since the team was founded in November 2013, the team had never even made it into the playoffs. Yesterday’s victory marks the young team’s first championship win.
"Grit and determination and courage, I could use all of those cliché words but they actually mean something within our team," forward, co-captain, Golden Boot winner, and tournament MVP Rachel Daly told ESPN. "After every postgame I say, 'Nothing breaks our circle, and if anything breaks our circle, we'll lose.' Today nothing broke our circle.''
After the game ended, team members made confetti angels and double fisting beers. Daley posted a photo to her Instagram of her holding a beer-filled trophy with the caption, “BUD, sweat & tears.”
The team received praise and congratulations from Houston’s other sports teams, including the Dynamo (their brother team), Texans, Astros, and Rockets.