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Well that was a match: San Diego Wave FC 1, OL Reign 1

Wave FC finish Challenge Cup with a grinding result.

NWSL: OL Reign at San Diego Wave FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego Wave FC wrapped up their 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup slate with the group stage finale against OL Reign on Saturday, with the teams splitting the points in a 1-1 draw at Torero Stadium.

It was an ill-tempered affair, and while San Diego had a late red card, they also got the benefit of some favorable officiating to get their equalizer, so it was a fairly fortunate result against the top team in the group, it must be said.

Kailen Sheridan, off the COVID protocol list, was back starting in goal for San Diego, while Kaleigh Riehl got the start alongside Naomi Girma in central defense with Abby Dahlkemper on COVID protocol and out for the night. Emily Van Egmond started in midfield with Taylor Kornieck returning to the XI.

Unfortunately, there were technical difficulties on the match stream and we missed all but some scrambled opening seconds, with the stream going dark until the 16th minute.

OL Reign once again found the opening goal and fairly early, courtesy of Ally Watt in the 12th minute. It wasn’t as early as some of the other first concessions for San Diego, but it was nevertheless pretty early.

Frankly, Sheridan was lucky not to get sent off straightaway here after coughing up the ball and only got a yellow card for football tackling the Reign player.

From there, when we could see the match, both team searched for an opening but there was nothing really stellar for most of the opening half. I would edge the general quality of chances to OL Reign, but in first-half stoppage time, Wave FC were awarded a penalty off a corner kick. In the scramble, the referee whistled the call when the ball pinged off Watt’s arm, although it appeared that arm was pinned to her side and not “unnatural.” Nevertheless, San Diego didn’t complain and Alex Morgan stepped up to convert the PK to make it 1-1 just before halftime.

Morgan exited the game at the break and Jodie Taylor replaced her to begin the 2nd half. Marleen Schimmer entered the game for Belle Briede in the 59th minute, and Amirah Ali entered for Sofia Jakobsson in the 67th minute.

The 2nd half was in large part similar to the 1st in terms of run of play. Both teams had stretches with the ball and mostly speculative chances, but the respective defenses held firm.

It got harder in the dying minutes, however. Turnbow, on a yellow card in the 69th minute, had a couple late tackles after that and her luck ran out in the 82nd minute, as she acquired her second yellow and an ejection. It was a tough 2nd half for the rookie, who’s still coming to grips with the defensive side of the game from a midfield position.

From there, San Diego aimed to hang on with a point, and it was nervy but they just managed to do it. Frankly, Wave FC were fairly fortunate to get the draw, but given some calls that broke their way, they made the most of them and got the equalizer and held on from there. That’s what happens sometimes in this sport, and in the end San Diego got a result in half their Challenge Cup games. A pretty decent start, honestly.

The Challenge Cup is over for Wave FC, but they’ll kick off their NWSL regular season slate next Sunday, when they’ll travel to Texas for the first time, to take on the Houston Dash. A new opponent, and a new road trip, can San Diego start the regular season on good note?

What do you think? Leave a comment below.