After sharing the inaugural match stage with fellow SoCal expansion side Angel City FC last weekend, it was time for the San Diego Wave to take center stage at their house. Hosting their first ever NWSL match at home, the Wave had their plates full with a prickly Portland Thorns side looking to separate themselves in a pretty stacked Western grouping of the Challenge Cup. Despite fighting hard, the Wave were unable to overcome an early strike from the Thorns, giving them the gritty 0-1 win on the road.
Portland wasted no time in playing party poopers on the road against Wave FC. Just five minutes into the match the Thorns did well to play through the middle, and some great passing in the attack led to a close look for rising star Sophia Smith. The young forward gave her team the lead early, and it looked like it would be one of those days for the expansion side.
Instead, the Wave locked in, and did incredibly well to finish the half strong. They may not have been able to find an equalizer but it wasn't for lack of trying. Alex Morgan came close to finding her account opener, hitting post and crossbar a few times while trying to bring her side level.
The early first-half goal would be all the Thorns needed t come away with the full three points. It made for a bittersweet evening on what was otherwise a great night for the Wave. Bitter because obviously, suffering your first loss, especially at home, is never a good feeling. It hurts even more when the only goal you gave up came in the early stages of the match as the players were just settling in.
However, it was mostly sweet. As much as players and fans want to hoist the Challenge Cup, it is a preseason tournament. The grouping the Wave are in not only features teams that are talented, but teams who have been around a while. Teams who have players that have years of chemistry built up together. This was always going to be a litmus test of sorts heading into the start of the regular season.
The result may not have gone their way, but it was a more than successful home opener for Wave FC. The team played in front of a sold out stadium, with supporters staying to cheer on their side for a full 90 minutes plus. Despite giving up the early goal, they didn't fold. They continued to fight and came up short, but left with a lot more positives than negatives. These growing pains are to be expected, thus is the nature of the NWSL. Better to get it out now in the preseason, so that we can be fully prepared when regular season gets underway.
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