HERRIMAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – In her professional debut, Tziarra King scored the game-tying goal in the 89th minute, as the Utah Royals erased a two-goal deficit to earn a 3-3 draw with Houston in both teams’ NWSL Challenge Cup opener.
The Royals grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute on when Diana Matheson converted an Amy Rodriguez cross for her first goal since 2018. But just before halftime, Houston tied the match a goal from Rachel Daly as the Dash forward gathered the ball and smashed a half-volley into the net to send the match into halftime at 1-1.
Daly would add a second just after halftime, getting on the end of a corner kick to make it 2-1 in the 47th minute. Shea Groom doubled the lead to 3-1 in the 67th minute, setting the stage for Utah’s comeback effort.
In the 83rd minute, Veronica Boquete notched her first URFC goal off a free kick just outside the box to narrow the margin to 3-2. Then King scored in her professional debut, as the Royals earned one point.
Before the game, every Royals player wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and took a knee during the national anthem.
“Today was just a really special day all around,” King said. “From kneeling with my teammates to honor the Black Lives Matter movement, to getting my first appearance then my first goal, it was definitely one that’ll go down as one of the best days ever.”
In Craig Harrington’s Royals coaching debut, he was pleased with the comeback, but knows his team cannot fall in these big holes.
“I was disappointed with how we gave up two goals right on the other side of halftime,” Harrington said. “It is special, but I think it’s a skill that gets overlooked and we have group that wants to put their foot down and dig in and go to work to win those first and second balls,” Harrington said. “They want to fight for each other. I think that shows the unity that we have as a group, a team and as a club and I’m thankful for that but I don’t want too many games where we’re giving up three goals.”
The Royals will next play Sky Blue FC Saturday at 10:30 a.m.