Home openers are the sports equivalent to a first impression. It’s a chance to set the standard at home, the place you defend with everything you have. The place you feel most comfortable, most supported. While San Diego Wave FC opened their inaugural campaign at the friendly confines of Torero Stadium, tonight was the moment everyone had circled on the schedule. The moment the entire season had been building towards. The rivalry match against Angel City FC, while playing at the permanent home for the first time-ever, in front of an NWSL record-breaking crowd.
Tonight, the wait is over.— San Diego Wave FC (@sandiegowavefc) September 17, 2022
San Diego's fútbol team is home. pic.twitter.com/MOAlrVQuGa
The first half couldn't have gone any better for Wave FC. The team came out strong from kickoff and never let off the gas. Peppering the goal with shots and getting the crowd into it early. 32k people chanting ‘San Diego’ is a different type of support and it showed with the team harnessing that energy and putting it to great use. Doing it on both sides of the pitch, not only did they get chances early and often, but Sheridan was a brick wall and made sure the visitors didn't spoil the party early. Then it happened.
In the 30th minute San Diego had a moment of absolute brilliance. Sofia Jakobsson put on a gorgeous ball from the wing that went into the box and found a leaping Jaedyn Shaw who, in just her third start for the Wave, made history as the first-ever player to score in Snapdragon Stadium. As you would expect the stadium erupted and shook and went crazy as the future of the game was on full display both off, and on, the pitch tonight.
It was the only goal to be scored in the half, with the team going into the break with the lead, and all the good feels needed for a strong second half. If there is one thing tonight was proof of, its that great goalkeeping is just as important, if not more-so, as great attacking. Kailen Sheridan had one of the best games of the season, putting on several stops, but none bigger than the one that came late in the second half. After being awarded a penalty, Angel City had a chance to equalize from the spot, but Sheridan wasn't about to give up any easy goals on a night like tonight. She guessed right and put a stop to Savannah McCaskill’s attempt, seeing her side in the lead.
kailen in the CLUTCHpic.twitter.com/bg7RGS8qcw— San Diego Wave FC (@sandiegowavefc) September 18, 2022
The Shaw goal is all the team needed to walk away with the three points. The win is huge for several reasons. Firstly, it puts the team right back at the top of the league standings — for now — in what has been a wild finish in the race for the shield. Secondly, it’s a win for your home opener, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. The first chance they had to defend Snapdragon, in front of a record crowd, and they succeeded, against their rivals no less. The team can enjoy this moment for the rest of the week as they won't be back in action until next weekend.
this is what investing in world-class athletes looks like. pic.twitter.com/EphChsZy7g— San Diego Wave FC (@sandiegowavefc) September 18, 2022
It’s a moment that may have been a season in the making of what has been an incredible inaugural year, but the team is hoping this is far from the climax. With playoffs looming the squad can bask in the glory of tonight, with eyes set on making even more magic at their new home, during the postseason.
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