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THE BEST OF THE BEST: Dash’s Daly named Challenge Cup MVP

Rachel Daly: “Although it is a great honor for me and my family, I went into this tournament with higher expectations and hopes – namely to bring the championship back to Houston.” (Photo courtesy of the Houston Dash)

Houston Dash captain and forward Rachel Daly Saturday has been named MVP of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.

Daly and her Houston teammates will face the Chicago Red Stars in Sunday’s finals.

A skillful, physical, and intense striker, the former St. John’s University Standout has been a key factor in Dash’s success. Of Houston’s six goals, Daly has played a role in four.

“It is a great honor to be named MVP for this tournament, but I would not be able to do it without my great teammates, staff, fans and the city of Houston,” said Daly. “Although it is a great honor for me and my family, I went into this tournament with higher expectations and hopes – namely to bring the championship back to Houston.”

Daly opened their tournament run, scoring a brace in their first game against Utah Royals FC. The England international leads the team by three goals and is tied with North Carolina Courage striker Lynn Williams in the Golden Boot race with three goals and assists. Daly can win the Golden Shoe with a goal or an assist in the final.

“It’s well deserved for their game and leadership, and it wouldn’t be possible without the team,” said Dash head coach James Clarkson. “That is a great recognition for you, the team and the club.”

As team captain, the native English from Harrogate helped develop a strong team mentality throughout the tournament and remind the team that “our circle will not break”.

Daly joined Dash in 2016 after being selected as the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft and holding at least part of the team’s Golden Boot Award for the past three years. She scored three game-winning goals in 2019 and played a key role in Houston’s quick start to the season under then-first-year head coach Clarkson.

Daly scored ten career goals in her third season with the club and was named Team of the Month with three NWSL awards in 2018. The striker was promoted to NWSL Second XI and the club’s MVP. She led the team by five goals in 2017 despite playing as a defender for part of the season.

Daly played with England in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. During the Lionesses’ run in France last summer, she appeared in five out of seven games and started in two, including the semi-finals against the United States. Daly has scored three goals and made 29 caps while dividing up time as a forward and full-back.

Here is a related story:

THE HARROGATE CONNECTION: Repost: Daly (St. John’s), Galton (Hofstra) cast a huge shadow and affect their schools

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