San Diego Wave FC ended their inaugural regular season in the NWSL tonight. Doing so, with more party and celebration than stress over a result. That is because coming into tonight Wave FC had already rewritten history, becoming the first NWSL expansion team to secure a spot in the playoffs in year one. Meaning, the result against North Carolina Courage didn’t matter in the grand scheme, but closing out the season, at home, in the new stadium, the team definitely wanted to head into the postseason fresh off a win.
With North Carolina needing to win to secure a playoff spot of their own, they came out the more aggressive side. The first half finished without a goal for either side but it wasn't for lack of effort. The visitors finished the first 45 with 57% of the possession, getting off eight shots, but only one finding the target. Even still, their aggression opened up several opportunities to take the lead, only fueling their hope for the incoming second half.
On the other side, San Diego was playing like a team that had the playoffs already in hand. Not playing bad, but non sense of urgency, and no real bite to any of the attacks. While a loss wouldn't cost the team playoffs, a win could open the door for them to host a postseason match, would be another cross off the list of accomplishments for the expansion side this season.
San Diego started the second half the stronger side, even appearing to take the lead shortly into the second half. However, the goal was ruled off for offside and we remained all even and scoreless. Near the 60 minute mark North Carolina brought on Diana Ordoñez, giving them all of their main attacking options as they geared up to go for the win for the final half hour.
Despite the second half flurry from the visitors, San Diego did well to defend. Especially rookie Naomi Girma, who only solidified her Rookie of the Year case with another stellar performance, on the first night wearing the Captain armband as well. The final whistle blew on Wave’s regular season, as it ended with a scoreless draw at home, with playoffs on the horizon. The team now shifts focus to making even more history with what is hopefully a magical run in the postseason. In a season as open as this one, the championship is very much anyone's at this point, so why not shock the world in year one?
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