After winning their first-ever game in the regular season against the Houston Dash, the San Diego Wave tried to follow that victory by winning at home. And they managed to do it in the most spectacular fashion, defeating the visitors 4-0 on Saturday at Torero Stadium. Though it was Gotham FC who got the ball rolling (literally) and who had the first shot of the match, it did not take long for the Wave to impose their game on their opponents.
Alex Morgan was truly the team’s standout star of the night, scoring all four goals for the Wave. San Diego had 17 shots inside the box and Morgan made 14 of them. Her shot tally contributed to the Wave having a total of 31 shots during the match (Opta). Morgan also holds the record for most shots during a single NWSL game, as she surpassed Lynn Williams, who previously held the title with 13 shots (xGisfornerds). Overall, San Diego outshot their opponents by a ratio of 31-to-8. It was an absolutely remarkable performance from the team.
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan also had a standout performance of her own. The former Gotham shot-stopper had four saves on the night as she recorded her second-consecutive clean sheet. The Wave’s defense as a whole has denied 19 shots and did not concede any goals through their first two matches of the regular season. Naomi Girma played a large part in that as, once again, the rookie’s composure and ability to read plays and to prevent them was exceptional.
There was a scary moment near the half-hour mark as captain Abby Dahlkemper went down with an apparent injury. A stretcher was brought onto the pitch and an ambulance was summoned to take her to a local hospital. Fortunately, the skipper was able to get up on her own accord and she left the match in the 35th minute. Kaleigh Riehl then took her place in the defense alongside Girma. After the game had ended, head coach Casey Stoney stated in a post-match interview that Dahlkemper is in stable condition.
The attacking trio of Taylor Kornieck, Jodie Taylor, and Alex Morgan continually created havoc for the opponent and terrorized their opponents’ backline. Kornieck nearly found the breakthrough in the 36th minute but Caprice Dydasco denied her with a brilliant block. Nine more minutes would pass before the Wave eventually got their breakthrough. Just as the half was coming to a close, Ifeoma Onumonu conceded a penalty through a handball inside the penalty area. Morgan then stepped up and drilled a line-drive penalty past her former national team teammate, Ashlyn Harris.
Game-changer Amirah Ali came into the match in the 64th minute alongside Kelsey Turnbow. The crowd cheered loudly for Ali and the Wave staff raved about her. Ali would reward their faith in her by winning a penalty after she was fouled by McCall Zerboni. Morgan would take the spot-kick again and send it into the right side of the net to give the Wave a 2-0 lead (66’).
Just four minutes later, she would follow this up by forcing a turnover from Zerboni in front of the goal. The forward then swung around to rifle a shot past Harris for the third time. Morgan would not only have the season’s first hat-trick but she would also be the first to score one for an expansion team in their first season.
Morgan’s final act of the night came just before the game’s curtain call. The forward raced into the box from the left, faked out Harris, and then scored her fourth goal of the game. The four goals by Morgan were the most she’s scored in a competition since recording five for the USWNT against Thailand in the last Women’s World Cup. It also marks the third time in NWSL history that a player has scored four goals in a single game, as she joined Kristen Hamilton and Sam Kerr as a member of that exclusive club.
The match finished 4-0 in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 5,000 at the Torero Stadium. The hometown fans were treated to a delightful spectacle for their team’s homecoming. San Diego is now at the top of the NWSL standings and after their high-flying performance on Saturday, they might feel like they’re on top of the world too.
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