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Morgan time: North Carolina Courage 0, San Diego Wave FC 1

Wave FC bounce back with another solid victory.

NWSL: San Diego Wave FC at North Carolina Courage Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

CARY, North Carolina — San Diego Wave FC ended their double-game week road trip on a good note, as they defeated the North Carolina Courage 1-0 on Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Alex Morgan scored her league-leading sixth goal of the NWSL regular season to win the match, and the San Diego defense held firm to pick up a third clean sheet of the regular season.

Head coach Casey Stoney was back on the sideline for this game, after missing Wednesday’s clash in Louisville due to being in COVID protocols. Kelsey Turnbow was suspended for this game for an elbow thrown in the Louisville match, with Alex Morgan returning to the starting XI for San Diego. Kaleigh Riehl was back in the XI, with Abby Dahlkemper not in the squad at all for the day.

The teams were back and forth to open the game, with both sides getting speculative looks early on. San Diego’s first good look came in the 22nd minute, with Morgan trying a header at the far post off a Jodie Taylor early cross, but the defensive pressure was just enough to keep the ball wide of the mark.

San Diego found the breakthrough in the 41st minute, as Taylor Kornieck hit a line-breaking pass to Morgan, who had to keep calm and complete the finish while bearing down on goal, which she did.

The teams went into the halftime break with San Diego leading 1-0 behind Morgan’s tally. North Carolina had a slight edge in possession and a big edge in total shots in the first 45, but it was a pretty even half and Wave FC managed to get the only attempt on target, and made it count.

After the break, San Diego had a good look in the 51st minute, when Tegan McGrady got loose and had a shot, but North Carolina GK Casey Murphy made the stop.

Her counterpart, San Diego GK Kailen Sheridan was pressed into action in the 56th minute, when Debinha shot through traffic, but Sheridan was able to save it.

The first Wave FC subs came in the 59th minute, with Sofia Jakobsson and Mia Gyau entering for Christen Westphal and McGrady.

Sheridan made another stop on Debinha in the 65th minute to keep North Carolina off the board.

San Diego’s next line change came in the 74th minute, with Amirah Ali and Katie Johnson replacing Kornieck and Taylor. Morgan was the final player out on the day, with Makenzy Doniak replacing her in the 87th minute.

The performance from Wave FC was certainly positive, as was the result, especially after losing their first-ever regular season game on Wednesday against Racing Louisville. I think this was a very close game, and San Diego had the one chance they cashed in, while North Carolina struggled to get the ball on target, aside from the Debinha attempts from distance. All in all, you’ll take the result, especially in a first trip to this venue.

San Diego will be next in action next Sunday, when they take on OL Reign in Seattle. The last time these teams were in action, San Diego got a contested draw in the Challenge Cup group stage finale, so we’ll see how Wave FC line up this time around against the repeat opponent.

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