Katie Johnson’s brace wasn’t enough for Sky Blue FC. (Jeffrey Auger Photo)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Forward Katie Johnson found the back of the net twice for Sky Blue FC as the Houston Dash recorded a 3-2 National Women’s Soccer League win at Yurcak Field Saturday night.

Veronica Latsko scored the game-winner, snapping a 2-2 deadlock in the 79th minute as she converted right-wing cross from Thembi Kgatlana before a crowd of 2,065.

The result left Sky Blue (0-3-1, 1 points) still searching for its first victory of the season while Houston (1-3-2, 5) recorded its initial win.

“We played fairly well in the first half, but I really liked the response we had in the second half tonight,” Sky Blue FC head coach Denise Reddy said. “We established a good rhythm and scored two goals, but we just came out a little bit unfortunate in the end. On a good day, we likely come away with the result. Overall, I was happy with our response in the second half and in finding a way to put two goals into the back of the net.”

In the 18th minute, Sky Blue FC created a good opportunity as Carli Lloyd sent a through-ball to Johnson inside the playing the ball Janine Beckie. The Canada international fired a shot on frame that deflected off a defender before it was collected by goalkeeper Jane Campbell.

The Dash broke the deadlock after earning a corner kick in the 24th minute. Kristie Mewis’ service hugged the end line and sailed over the reach of goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Lindsey Agnew, who chased it down, one-touched it back into play near the front of the goal. Nichelle Prince put in home for a 1-0 lead.

Sky Blue FC nearly found an equalizer in the 55th minute, as Lloyd found Savannah McCaskill just ahead of her. McCaskill cut a ball through two defenders to the racing Johnson, who touched around Campbell and fired towards the would-be open goal. However, Amber Brooks hustled down the attempt and poked it away.

Only two minutes later, Lloyd played a ball over the top for Shea Groom, who perfectly timed a burst past her defender and raced into the box. She carried possession towards the end line and centered a hard roller that found the outside of Johnson’s right foot, leveling the contest at 1-1.

In the 59th minute, the Dash regained the lead when former St. John’s University standout Rachel Daly delivered a cross from the right flank that Sheridan had difficulty in managing, pushing Houston into a 2-1 lead.

Johnson eventually evened the match again in the 73rd minute. Following a short corner kick, Beckie played the ball to McCaskill, who one-touched for Groom. Following a quick tap from Groom, Sarah Killion sent a chip towards the center of the area. Surrounded by four defenders, Johnson put a header home to equalize at 2-2.

Sky Blue FC visits Seattle Reign FC next weekend before returning home to Yurcak Field on Saturday, May 19, hosting the North Carolina Courage for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Scoring Summary:

24 HOU Nichelle Prince (Lindsey Agnew)
57 NJ Katie Johnson (Shea Groom)
59 HOU Rachel Daly (Kealia Ohai)
73 NJ Katie Johnson (Sarah Killion)
79 Veronica Latsko (Thembi Kgatlana)

Lineups:

NJ: Sheridan, Freeman, Stott, Skroski, Gibbons (Hoy-85), Rodriguez (Groom-46), Killion, Lloyd, McCaskill, Beckie, Johnson (Tiernan-85)
Subs not used: Casey, Meehan, Moreno, Richardson
Head Coach: Denise Reddy

HOU: Campbell, Mewis, Daly, Van Wyk, Keever, Ohai (Kgatlana-76), Agnew (Latsko-71), Prince (Jordan-90), Hanson, Brooks, Simon
Subs Not Used: Henninger, Hahn, Jordan, Shim, Murphy
Head Coach: Vera Pauw

Stats Summary: NJ / HOU
Shots: 11 / 17
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 3 / 8
Fouls: 11 / 7
Offside: 2 / 4

Misconduct Summary:

64 NJ Savannah McCaskill (Yellow Card)
84 HOU Rachel Daly (Yellow Card)

Officials:

Referee: Christina Unkel
Assistant Referee 1: Trent Vanhaitsma
Assistant Referee 2: Luis Arroyo
Fourth Official: Amato DeLuca

Woman of the Match: Katie Johnson