The “Next Player Up” mentality was on display with San Diego Wave Futbol Club on Sunday afternoon. The Wave was missing several important pieces to the puzzle, including NWSL leading goal scorer Alex Morgan and a sloo of others due to international duty, San Diego regained the top spot in the NWSL table with a 2-1 victory over the Washington Spirit before a sell-out crowd of over 6,000 fans at Torero Stadium.
The Wave improves to 6-2-3 (21 Pts.), while remaining unbeaten at home in the regular season at 3-0-2 (11 Pts.) and retake first place in the NWSL standings as San Diego and Chicago continue to battle for first place. Wave FC saw the return of team captain Abby Dahlkemper on Sunday which marked her first match since early May after having injury trouble. San Diego’s first signed player in club history turned in a full 90-minute effort and helped anchor backup Goalkeeper Carly Telford in her first start of the season. She made two saves on three shots on goal to secure her first win of the season. Washington falters to 1-4-6 (9 Pts.) and remains in eighth place in the table.
TIME LAPSE (How it happened): In a match where both sides were missing several key components due to the aforementioned international break and call-ups, the two sides traded chances throughout the opening half, but it would be San Diego striking first thanks to Makenzy Doniak. She scored her second goal in as many matches in the 36th minute, polishing off a well-designed passing play from Christen Westphal. Westphal’s run took her towards the right side of the box where she slipped a pass into Doniak, who had parked herself inside the Washington box. Doniak redirected the pass from Westphal over the outstretched Devon Kerr to put the Wave in front 1-0.
WAVE FC GOAL: Makenzy Doniak (36’) SD 1, WAS 0
WHERE THE TIDE TURNED (Turning Point): The turning point came just before Half Time, as San Diego doubled the advantage four minutes into stoppage time. It would be Marleen Schimmer intercepting a ball near the midfield circle and making a darting run towards goal, she then threaded a beautiful pass to Belle Briede who beat Kerr low to the left post for her first of the season propelling the Wave to a 2-0 lead. It’s Briede’s first goal of the season and it would end up being the difference-maker for the Wave.
WAVE FC GOAL: Belle Briede (45+4’) SD 2, WAS 0
Washington finally broke through in stoppage time in the 90th minute after Jordan Baggett headed home a sensational goal off a feed from Tiana McKeown past Carly Telford to bring the Spirit back to a 2-1 deficit, but the Wave held off any further opportunities to secure the 2-1 victory.
WASHINGTON GOAL: Jordan Baggett (90+3’): SD 2, WAS 1
Makenzy Doniak on the match: “This game is a good testament to us grinding it out till the end. I think it wasn’t pretty at times, but sometimes that’s the game. I’m really proud of this team for getting a Win after this little break and just getting momentum into the next week is important for us. I’m proud of this team.”
Makenzy Doniak on her goal that opened the scoring: “I think as a center forward, you have to trust your wide players. Christen Westphal is a great example of that. I just trusted that she was going to get that ball. I think Belle [Briede] was in front of me and it kinda went past her and I just followed through and put the ball in the back of the net.”
Head Coach Casey Stoney on the match: “Extremely proud of the performance today. I thought we dominated large periods, probably could’ve put the game out of sight a couple of times, then we made it interesting at the end. A massive squad effort in terms of prep for this week. Most importantly, three points on the board.”
Casey Stoney on having Abby Dahlkemper back in the lineup: “Massive. Massive. You can’t understate the experience and the leadership qualities. She’s a huge player for us, her character is incredible.”
Casey Stoney on Carly Telford’s performance: “I thought she was outstanding today. She took the pressure off, she makes a save. I thought she was really comfortable, really assured. Just a performance to build on. Really pleased for her, I thought it was a performance she needed, and the team needed. Really pleased.”
Casey Stoney on opportunities for players to step up: “It’s a massive opportunity. I don’t make excuses. People say ‘we’re an expansion team’ that’s an excuse or ‘we’re missing five players’ that’s an excuse. It’s an opportunity. Opportunity for other people to get really good playing time. Opportunity for others to step up and an opportunity for us to get [standings] points on the board and they did that. I’ve got an incredible roster, I trust my players. We give probably more minutes to rookies than most other teams because if you don’t put them in, you don’t know.”
NEXT MATCH: For the first time this regular season, San Diego will meet up with Angel City FC on Saturday, July 9th at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles in the first installment of the SoCal Derby between the two expansion sides.
“Looking forward to it. Really looking forward to it.” said Stoney. “They’re a good side. They’ve had some really good results, they’re well-coached, well organized. They can hurt you if you’re not in the game. Really looking forward to going to their stadium, they get good crowds, and hopefully, try and get a result there.”