The timing couldn’t have been better for San Diego Wave FC, as they squared off against expansion sister team Angel City FC on Saturday for the first time at home, and posted a first-ever win, a 4-2 romp at Torero Stadium on a national CBS broadcast.
A brace from Alex Morgan powered the home side, with veteran Jodie Taylor and rookie Amirah Ali bookending with goals of their own.
Unsurprisingly, head coach Casey Stoney had a moment to smile and laud her team after the result.
“I don’t smile often,” Stoney quipped to reporters postgame. “Players will tell you that. Yeah, listen, I’m kind of overcome with pride in terms of today’s performance, in terms of the fact that they got pegged back twice after going in front. The fact that they dominated the first half or could have gone in deflated, fully showed real character. Quality players showed the quality on the pitch.”
Over 5,000 were in attendance for the game, and Morgan credited them with helping San Diego weather a couple blips along the way, with an own goal and strike by Angel City forward Christen Press making for some nervy moments.
“I think we’re just feeding off of the crowd energy,” Morgan said. “And we didn’t get the result that we wanted last week. But we knew we had an opportunity this week to turn it around in front of a great crowd and we felt really good coming into this week. On week three, we wanted to get our first win in club history. And I feel like definitively we’re able to do that and show that on the field.”
While the veterans like Morgan and Taylor helped carry Wave FC through the first hour, Ali’s insurance goal late and the impact of her fellow substitutes showed San Diego calling their subs “gamechangers” isn’t just a social gimmick.
“Unbelievable,” said Stoney when asked about the performance of the rookie subs. “I thought Belle [Briede] was outstanding when she came on, gave us real impetus and legs and carried the ball got us up the pitch, gave us chances, gave us what we needed. I thought we started to fade at that point. So we’ve had to make those changes and I’m never afraid to make them so I think that’s why they’re there. They’re gamechangers as well, she come on and was unbelievable.
“Amirah, I know what Amirah can do, so I wasn’t surprised at all. I’m just really pleased for her and proud for her. If we can get her fit though, she’s had a bout of injury and a bout of illness and she’s nowhere near fit where we need her to be, but if we can get her fit, listen, she can light this league up, no doubt. The way she can turn and run and her intelligence as well is unbelievable and I thought she takes that like as composed veteran. So you know, it was really pleasing. And then Marleen Schimmer comes on and what a technical player to bring on when you need someone who’s going to keep the ball and buy fouls and create problems. So yeah, really, really pleased with everybody that contributed tonight,” she added.
The timing was great for a debut win for San Diego since they’re now on a bye due to the international window, and with a tricky road swing in the Pacific Northwest coming up next, Morgan is looking forward to hit the road and test her side against their Challenge Cup groupmates.
“I think we’ll have a good week and a half of training, obviously [playing OL Reign and the Portland Thorns] will be one away trip together. And a quick turnaround. Every team has a midweek game in this Challenge Cup so I think for us it’s kind of now building on this win and knowing that we can compete with those teams. With Portland, we had a good amount of chances. We’re going to see Reign for the first time but I feel like this was just another step for us in this tournament and in the bigger scope of the season. So it’s just great for us to move forward. And I think going on this away trip, it’ll be our first away trip ever together as a club. So, it’s kind of figuring things out before the season starts and this is a great way to do that,” she said.
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