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Hamilton Hat Trick Carries KC Current over the Dash

Kristen Hamilton with the first hat trick in Kansas City Current history leads a comeback over the Houston Dash.



Credit: Thad Bell

The Kansas City Current returned from their week off, not to play an NWSL league game, but for the fourth group stage game of the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup. With one less game played than Group C leaders Racing Louisville under their belts, KC find themselves six points out of first place in second, ahead of Saturday’s opponent, the Houston Dash. The Dash have just one win, over the last place Chicago Red Stars, while Kansas City have wins over Houston and Chicago. Louisville are perfect through four games. Even if they don’t win the group, the best second place team across all three groups advance, so KC still control their destiny.


The Current would enter the match missing a huge chunk of players, as has been the case for all of 2023, though Lo’eau LaBonta returned to the bench after missing quite a few games with injury.

The KC Current put out a largely unchanged lineup filled with rookies and inexperienced players, but they had a potent bench with LaBonta, Mimmi Larsson and Alex Loera ready to come in and make an impact. The big positive was the return of Cece Kizer after a scary looking ankle injury.


Houston rolled out a strong lineup, bolstered by a lineup that included Mexican National Team stars Maria Sanchez and Diana Ordonez, since Mexico isn’t at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. One player that was a bit surprising not to see in the starting lineup was Jane Campbell, who has played for the USWNT in the past. Perhaps a chance to give experience to another keeper in a non-league game.

Before we get to the action, kudos to the KC Blue Crew rolling out quite the tifo.

First Half

The 11th minute had the first excitement of the half as a ball was won in the midfield by Kizer and played to Winebrenner and then wide to Michelle Cooper who sent a dangerous cross into Kizer. That shot was saved. From there, the Current were in complete control, until they weren’t. It would be the Houston Dash who would open the scoring. A turnover in the midfield led to a Maria Sanchez pass to Madelyn Desiano who absolutely placed it in the upper 90. It was her first career goal. 1-0 Houston.

After some nervy moments just after the goal, KC took the game back over. They looked to be the better side and controlled possession but couldn’t create opportunities. In the 28th minute, backup goalkeeper, Emily Alvarado, took a seat on the pitch and pounded the ground indicating her day was done. She was replaced by Campbell after a delay and the comeback just became that much harder.

Just after the substitution, Houston created another dangerous chance as Caprice Dydasco took a shot on the edge of the box that was deflected by Gabby Robinson and AD Franch was forced to push it out for a corner. The games first yellow card would follow shortly after Michelle Cooper barged into Sanchez who had beaten several players with her long attacking run. The card will mean that Cooper misses the next Challenge Cup game.

Kansas City kept their foot on the gas for the remainder of the first half, consistently forcing turnovers and putting Houton in tight spots. It would take until stoppage time for that pressure to pay off. Cooper started it with a slick turn to beat her defender who tried to grab her, but she muscled out of it to keep pressing towards goal. Jenna Winebrenner was wide open, and Cooper cut the ball back to her, but she whiffed (correction, slight deflection which is going down as an assist) on her shot which was the perfect dummy to Kristen Hamilton who leveled the score.

Before the half was over, Kansas City would add another one. It started with an interception deep in Kansas City’s zone. Kate Del Fava played the ball out to Kizer who dummied the ball to herself, and she got off a pass just before Katie Lind took her out. The ref correctly played advantage and Winebrenner dribbled deep into Houton’s zone, holding the ball the perfect amount of time to draw in defenders before playing it to Hamilton who would add her second goal of the match and put the KC Current up 2-1 at the half.

Second Half

Houston had some early moments to start the second half, but the first chances would both go to KC. First, Michelle Cooper got in deep and got off two shot attempts before Jane Campbell scrambled to grab the ball off the line. Cooper was ultimately offside so none of it mattered. Moments later, Robinson made an enterprising dribble through the midfield on to the edge of the 18-yard-box where she took a hit, and it deflected off the goalpost and out for a goal kick.

In the 59th minute Alex Loera was the first sub, replacing Winebrenner in the midfield.

Kansas City stayed on the offensive and kept Houston under pressure before a little controversy as Cooper and the entire stadium wanted a PK on contact in the box, but the ref waived to play on.

After play restarted from an injury break for Houston, Kansas City would add to their lead. Kristen Hamilton completed her hat trick with an assist from Michelle Cooper (who probably deserved an assist on the first goal too, but no hockey assists in the NWSL). It’s the first hat trick in KC Current club history.


Immediately after the goal it was an attempt at a response from the Dash. They got in deep on an attack, but the attempt went off the crossbar and then Kate Del Fava got in the way of a rebounded shot to force a corner kick. It looked like a sure goal for Houston, but the score remained 3-1. On the ensuing corner kick, Morgan Gautrat took a scary shot to the head. She would walk off on her own power but immediately be subbed out. She was replaced by Rylan Childers while Cooper came off for Mimmi Larsson at the same time.

In the 88th Hamilton almost added a fourth with a free header in the box, but it was too close to Campbell who handled it. After that, she’d get her curtain call and be replaced by Chardonnay Curran. Just before that, Del Fava was subbed off for Addisyn Merrick. It was an odd sequence of events because it appeared that, while KC had only made four subs, they had already used three windows. So, then Hamilton went back into the game and Curren went back to the bench.

In the 94th minute, Jylissa Harris went into the book for a yellow card challenge on Kizer, but KC gets the worst of it as Kizer had to leave the field for the second game in a row with an injury. Since Kansas City were out of subs, they’d play down a woman for the rest of stoppage time.



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