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Spirited effort falls short: Washington Spirit 4, San Diego Wave FC 3

Second-half comeback falls short for Wave FC on the road against defending champs

NWSL: San Diego Wave FC at Washington Spirit Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe, because it still feels like San Diego Wave were prepping for to kickoff their inaugural season, but here we are with just four matches left in the regular season. Four matches for the Wave to secure their spot atop the league after spending nearly all season there. The NWSL is nothing if not chaotic, and the finish to this season is no different. First, San Diego needed to find a way to get the win on the road against the defending champions, Washington Spirit.

The match was the final of what was two matches to be broadcast on the main CBS channel, both featuring Wave FC, and the teams got the show started early. San Diego struck first, with a gorgeous play in attack. Emily van Egmond had all day to put in a beautiful ball towards the far post, where a streaking Jaedyn Shaw found her way onto the pass and tapped it in for the lead in just the seventh minute of play.

That goal must have woken up the home side because it was all them for the rest of the first half. On an equally great attack, Spirit forward Tara McKeown finished off the play with a ferocious strike to equalize just minutes after going down.

Washington defender, Amber Brooks, had a half to remember, getting a brace before the end of the first half to extend the lead for her side. First, she took advantage of chaos in the box, after the Wave couldn't find a way to clear out several attempts, Brooks put a shot past Sheridan for the 2-1 lead. Before the half ended, Brooks got on the end of a great ball sent in from the corner kick, getting off a fadeaway header that lofted over the keeper for an incredible goal.

If San Diego wanted to stay atop the league, they'd need a big second half. In the 55th minute, they got a chance to cut down the lead, when Alex Morgan was taken down in the box after just getting possession of the ball. After a moment to think about it all, the referee awarded the penalty after initially deciding against it, and Morgan stepped up to the spot and cut the deficit down to just one goal with plenty of time left to find points.

It took a while, but in the 82nd minute, Alex Morgan did what she does best, score in big moments. Her 15th of the season put Wave level late, giving them a crucial point in the race for first, with enough time to put all three points back up for grabs. A corner kick was sent into the box and Morgan came flying in, with the ball finding the back of her head for the sixth goal of the match.

In the waning seconds of the match, Washington were able to draw a penalty when chaos ensued and shots at the keeper were happening. Ashley Hatch stepped up to the spot, with their playoff lives literally on the line, and put it home for the late match winner. The loss puts Wave FC in second place, but they are tied on points with Portland Thorns. San Diego will be opening up their permanent home, Snapdragon Stadium, next weekend when they take on SoCal rivals, Angel City FC.

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