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Utah Royals FC - Houston Dash
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Utah Royals FC Storm Home To Clinch Point In Challenge Cup Opener

Courtesy of Utah Royals FC

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Royals FC have mustered a 3-3 draw in their opening game of the Challenge Cup against the Houston Dash, despite being down two goals with just ten minutes left to play. It was also the first game in which manager Craig Harrington was in charge of the Royals.

The Royals scored the opening goal in the contest after Diana Matheson tapped the ball into the back of the net from a brilliant delivery from Amy Rodriguez. Matheson made a splendid run towards the near post in which Rodriguez saw and was able to execute a flat and fast delivery to make the final shot a simple one.

However, the Royals would surrender three consecutive goals to find themselves behind 3-1 with 10 minutes to play. Dash forward Rachel Daly proved too much for the Royals defense as she scored the first two goals of the tournament for the Dash. Then, shortly after Daly scored her brace, a brilliant strike from Shea Groom in the 67th minute found the net to put the visitors up 3-1. Groom snapped the ball across her body to beat Royals goalkeeper Abby Smith at her back post.

Fairytale Ending

A glimmer of hope for the Royals occurred in the 82nd minute when Spanish midfielder Verónica Boquete tucked the ball into the right hand corner of the net from a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box.

Remarkably, Tziarra King leveled for the host team in the 89th minute. King came on as a substitute in the 70th minute for Brittany Ratcliffe, it was her NWSL debut.

The game finished 3-3, each team warranting a point for their efforts.

It was the highest-scoring game of the tournament thus far, albeit early in the tournament.

Marquee’s Missing

The Utah Royals were without some of their marquee players. Christen Press and Desiree Scott have both voluntarily opted out of partaking in the tournament, while Kelly O’Hara was unavailable for selection due to a quad strain. All three players are World Cup caliber contributors for the Royals.

Next Opponents

The Utah Royals next opponent will be Sky Blue FC on July 4 with kickoff scheduled for 10:30 a.m. They will then play OL Reign on July 8th at 10:30 a.m. before closing out their group stage with Chicago Red Stars on July 12 at 8 p.m.

You can follow the action of every game through CBS All-Access.

Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.

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