Decisions, Decisions, Decisions. The final week of the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) regular season is here as San Diego Wave Futbol Club looks to carry momentum into the NWSL Postseason on Friday evening as they host the North Carolina Courage at 7pm Pacific Time at Snapdragon Stadium airing live on Paramount+. The Wave made history last week becoming the first expansion club in the NWSL’s ten years of play to clinch a playoff berth in their inaugural season and bring in a 10-6-5 record into Friday’s match-up with 35 Points. North Carolina holds the final playoff spot with a 9-8-4 record, 31 Points.
RACE TO THE SHIELD (NWSL Standings): San Diego enters just three points out of the top seed occupied by the Portland Thorns while North Carolina clings to a one-point lead over the Chicago Red Stars for the sixth and final playoff spot.
IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY: Entering Friday, the NWSL Playoff Picture looked like this:
- Portland – BYE
- OL Reign – BYE
- Kansas City vs. 6. North Carolina
- SAN DIEGO vs. 5. Houston
THE DROP-IN (Last Match): San Diego roared back in their final road match of the regular season down in Orlando against the Orlando Pride at Exploria Stadium to secure a 2-2 tie and punch their ticket to the NWSL Playoffs on September 25th. Despite falling behind 2-0, Makenzy Doniak and Taylor Korenick came to the rescue in the second half to rally the troops in the 76th and 87th minutes. San Diego and Orlando split the regular season series with road victories under the belts.
IMPACT ZONE (All-Time Series): San Diego leads the all-time series over North Carolina with a 1-0-0, 3 Pts. record. The Wave and Courage met up way back in May and saw San Diego topple North Carolina 1-0 thanks to an Alex Morgan tally in the 41st minute.
2022 SAN DIEGO WAVE FC ROSTER:
Goalkeepers (3): Kailen Sheridan, Carly Telford, Melissa Lowder
Defenders (8): Abby Dahlkemper, Naomi Gima, Kaleigh Reihl, Tegan McGrady, Christen Westphal, Kayla Bruster, Mia Gyau, Taylor Hansen
Forwards (7): Amirah Ali, Jodie Taylor, Sofia Jakobsson, Alex Morgan, Makenzy Doniak, Katie Johnson, Jayden Shaw
Midfielders (7): Emily van Egmond, Kelsey Turnbow, Kristen McNabb, Sydney Pulver, Taylor Kornieck, Belle Briede, Marleen Schimmer
ABOUT THE OPPONENT: NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE: For the final regular season matchup of the season the Wave will welcome the North Carolina Courage to Snapdragon Stadium on Friday evening. The Courage check-in holding the sixth and final playoff spot with a 9-8-4 record, 31 Points, and cling to that playoff spot by a point over Chicago. Debinha leads North Carolina’s offense with 12 Goals on the season along with Diana Ordonez netting 11 Goals, they are second and fourth only to Alex Morgan of San Diego who has 15 Goals to lead the NWSL.
SHORE BREAK (Goalkeeping Matchup): Kailen Sheridan will be the expected starter for San Diego while North Carolina will be expected to send out Casey Murphy for Friday’s match.
OFFSHORE VIEWING (Where To Watch): Friday’s match will begin at 7pm Pacific from Snapdragon Stadium and will be aired on Paramount+. Fans coming out to the match can enjoy the Boardwalk Fest pre-game party beginning at 4:30pm before Gates Open at 5pm.
QUOTES (courtesy of the Wave FC Communications Team):
Wave FC Head Coach, Casey Stoney:
On the upcoming match:
“It’s another big game, irrelevant of the fact that we’ve clinched playoffs. It’s another big game in terms of where we want to finish in the standings. We are prepared. We’ve had a long trip back – no excuses. We’ve had little prep time- no excuses. We still need to know what we need to do and how we can execute. I say- I’ve got a lot of respect for Sean [Nahas, NC Courage Head Coach], he’s a good coach. I’ve got a lot of respect for their team, they’re a very good team. They are on a bit of a good run and have lots of momentum at the moment. It’s going to be a big game and a big challenge but one that we are really looking forward to.”
On the meaning of the game:
“It’s a big game. It’s not just a big game for us, it’s a big game for a few other teams that are in the mix as well, depending on the result. It’s a game we want to win. We know we need to be at our very best to get all three points. We’ve had a difference in schedule this week which I think has helped us. It’s a game we are looking forward to. We know we are prepared. They’re a good team, and we’ve got to be able to go out there and perform.”
On the momentum going into playoffs:
“I think you always want to go into your next game off the back of a win with confidence and momentum. All we can do is control what we can control and that is our performance and our attitude and how we execute our game plan. The rest will take care of itself.”
On Snapdragon Stadium crowd energy:
“It brought us the win. It carried us over the line. The fans were incredible, it was electric. The players are looking forward to getting back there.”
On Sofia Jakobsson’s impact for Wave FC:
“Sof[ia] is a really good character. She is direct and very funny in our environment. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of her yet if I’m honest, and she knows that, and she’s said that herself. We signed her because she is such a good player, she gives us energy and legs. She is very good at running behind and that is something we definitely need in this league. She’s taken a little bit of time to settle. I think we have the best of her yet to come and I’m excited to see that, but she has been incredible for us in terms of the environment and character piece and what she has been able to add.”
On the state of the Spanish national team:
“It is so important to have a voice, but it is more important they’re listened to and heard. This isn’t just one or two or three players, and even if it was, it’s 15. 15 of their top internationals. I will reiterate: the things that women have to go through to even play the game, the choices they have to make, the hurdles they have to face, the barriers that are put up for you to even play the game. These 15 players haven’t made this decision lightly. They haven’t opted out of international football lightly. This is the pinnacle of their career. Somebody needs to be asking why, and somebody needs to be hearing them, and somebody needs to get in a room and sort this out because it is not looking great from the federation to say they are just going to ban them. I can’t see this as a player empowerment thing. I worked with Ona [Batlle] at Manchester United, she is not making this decision lightly, she is an incredible character. I don’t know the full story, but I think someone needs to find out why and ask the questions because this is a huge decision for them. Don’t forget, there’s a World Cup next year. These players are taking themselves out of a World Cup. Why? For me, I am in full support of them. This does not happen lightly.”
Wave FC Defender Christen Westphal:
On the upcoming match:
“We are all super excited for another game at Snapdragon. It is our last game of the regular season, so it’s a big one for us, and we know that but it’s just another game that we have another opportunity to learn and grow as a team as we head into playoffs. I think we’re just really excited to prepare for it and are ready for it to be Friday!”
On the importance of the match:
“Highest priority is getting three points. I think we know we can do that if we show up and play how we know how to play and trust in ourselves and each other. If we show up and play our best, I have no doubt we are capable of getting three points.”
On success as an expansion team:
“As an expansion team, people did not think we were capable of much and their expectations were actually very low. We just took that as fuel and thought ‘we are going to make history.’ We know the players here, we know the staff, we know the support we have here, and we know we can accomplish things that teams who have been established for much longer can accomplish as well. We did not take that as a way out or as an excuse, we just took it as fuel and thought ‘We are going to smash every low expectation and set the bar for expansion teams to come.’ We have always believed in ourselves.”
[Jaedyn: “With me coming in later it was definitely a thing I noticed. There are no boundaries. You go and do as much as you can and make history. This team is a history-making team, and everybody here has bought into that.”].
On staying prepared/healthy at the end of the season:
“Game prep and managing yourself every day and making that a priority. Knowing what your personal body needs and making sure you are accountable for doing those things that are going to set you up to be able to perform on the weekend. That looks different for everybody, but I think at this stage and this level, everyone is aware of what they need. It is just taking it upon themselves to make sure they do that 100% to make sure we can continue to stay healthy and continue to perform as we go into the playoffs.”
On maintaining the mental component of end of season:
“There is a mental aspect outside of training. We all come to practice as if we’re competing and playing. I take the mental aspect outside of soccer and really make sure there are times when I can unplug and do things that fulfill me outside of soccer, so I can recharge and be able to show up and give it my all every practice and every game, so I think there is a mental aspect for me personally, it isn’t within practice, it is outside of soccer where I take care of my mental health.”
Wave FC Forward Jaedyn Shaw:
On the upcoming match:
“I agree with everything Chris[ten Westphal] said. I think we are all super excited and ready to get playing in the Snapdragon again. It was an amazing environment, and we are ready to be back.”
On the importance of the match:
“I think just getting the most points that we can out of this game will help us. Just going out and doing our best.”
On the importance of Snapdragon energy:
“It helps me keep going knowing there are people out there who genuinely want you to succeed. It makes you want to push harder and keep going and make that last ditch effort.”
On making history with Wave FC:
“Being here is an amazing opportunity for me, playing in the league and being able to be in this environment with these kinds of players and coaching staff. It is just me trying to take advantage of it as much as I can and learn from it and grow. Being able to play in a stadium like Snapdragon and play in front of fans like San Diego has is a dream come true. My mindset is just pushing forward, there is no ceiling, I want to go as far as I can.”
On learning from veterans:
“These women take so much care of their bodies and preparing for games and making sure they are in tip top shape for the game coming up on the weekend. Seeing that and learning what works for me and what doesn’t is a great opportunity.”
“The thing I get the most [from veterans] is to just have fun and enjoy the moment. After I scored in Snapdragon, Alex [Morgan] just told me ‘take it in. Enjoy this moment, so I try to do that as much as I can.”