HERRIMAN, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Once again, the Utah Royals could not generate any offense, and get eliminated from the NWSL Challenge Cup.
Jane Campbell made three penalty kick saves, as the Houston Dash beat the Royals in PK’s 3-2, after the two teams played to a scoreless draw in regulation in the quarterfinal showdown.
“They were the lucky ones today that put their penalties away and won it, so congratulations to them and good luck to them the rest of the tournament,” Royals head coach Craig Harrington said. “Proud of the team, I thought performance wise we really didn’t have a disaster of a performance through the tournament, I thought that we were pretty steady, a lot of improvements today. The goal was to keep a clean sheet and we did that, and we thought that if we did that we would find a way to score, it didn’t go that way, but overall for everyone to contribute the way that they have on and off the field.”
After playing to a 3-3 draw in the tournament opener against Houston, the Royals managed just one goal in the next four games, and got shut out in its last three matches.
Neither team could generate much offense Friday night at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman. The Royals had just four total shots, two on frame, while Houston managed just one shot on goal.
Campbell made three saves in the penalty kick shootout, the clinching save coming on a shot by Vero Boquete, that sent the Dash to the semifinals against the Portland Thorns.
“I hate walking away from tonight’s game,” Royals captain Amy Rodriguez said. “Credit to our team, we played our hearts out. I’m so proud of the girls, in such a crazy year we still fought to the very end and as the leader on this team I take responsibility, missing that first PK, the always weighs heavily on you, but again I could not be more proud of the girls. At the end of the day, I told the girls, win or lose ‘I love you guys,’ we’ll play our hearts out for each other and I think you saw that today.”
The abbreviated season is now over for the Royals after just five games. Utah ended up 1-3-1 in Craig Harrington’s first year as head coach.
“I’ll take a step back, obviously I’ll meet with my staff and talk to them, and we’ll really analyze and be really critical of each other, see the ins and outs of ways to get better,” Harrington said. “The team didn’t get through, that’s on me, the buck stops with me. It hurts a lot right now. We want to be in the semifinal with the chance to play in our stadium. I haven’t even coached in that stadium, this was still an away game, we haven’t played at home, so the chance to get that at some point is what I want to have.”