Wave Recap: Oh Captain! My Captain!
It took 120 minutes on Sunday, but October 16, 2022 checks off another “First” moment in the history of San Diego Wave FC. Before a new NWSL record crowd of 26,215, a 2nd half-goal from Emily van Egmond and an Extra Time goal from the NWSL’s Golden Boot winner Alex Morgan, the Wave secured their first-ever playoff victory in club history with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Red Stars at Snapdragon Stadium. San Diego advances to the NWSL Semi-Finals to face the Portland Thorns at Providence Park next week. The victory for the Wave to go along with the two regular-season meetings gives San Diego a 3-0-0 all-time record against Chicago. They will now face the number one-seeded Thorns on the road. In the all-time series against Portland, San Diego has compiled a 1-0-1 record which includes a victory in Portland and an emphatic comeback 2-2 comeback back in early June at Torero Stadium.
TIME LAPSE (How it Happened): The evening got off to a slippery start within the first ten minutes of play with Chicago capitalizing on a mix-up in the San Diego half of the field. Following a mishap from goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, Yuki Nagasato took the intended pass away and calmly sent a left-footed shot into a wide-open net to give the Red Stars a 1-0 lead. San Diego was unfazed by the early tally from the visitors, and they began to turn up their offensive attack and pressure. The Wave had numerous chances to tie the match up throughout the opening half, missing by mere inches, and began to take over offensive zone time as they kept the Red Stars at bay as the half began to die down, but Chicago would end up taking the 1-0 lead into the locker room.
San Diego’s pressure and surge continued as the second half started and continued on with plenty of chances to uncover the equalizer, and they were rewarded in the 67th minute. Sofia Jakobsson played a ball through to herself while getting by a Chicago defender on the near sideline. She was able to slip a pass through into the penalty area where it ricocheted off of a crowd of bodies in front of Chicago’s goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The ball bounced out to Emily van Egmond, who beat Naeher with a shot to the right post to tie up the match at 1-1. For van Egmond, it marked her first goal in the NWSL since the 2014 season.
90 minutes proved to not be enough for the match and its tied score spilled over into Extra Time. San Diego came within an inch or two of taking the early advantage in Extra Time as a header from Taylor Kornieck hit off the post but did not go over the goal line and Chicago’s defense was able to clear the ball out of harm’s way. Not even a minute later, Jakobbson put a shot on goal from distance but Alyssa Naeher was equal to the task to make the diving save.
WHERE THE TIDE TURNED (The Turning Point): With Extra Time continuing to drag on, who would San Diego turn to in the big moment in their first-ever playoff match? No one better to do the honors than the NWSL’s regular season Golden Boot winner. In the 110th minute of play, Alex Morgan skipped a left-footed shot to the back post just out of the reach of Naeher for the go-ahead goal, sending a new NWSL playoff record crowd of 26,215 into pure jubilation as the Wave took their first lead of the night at 2-1. San Diego’s defense did the rest in the waning minutes of Extra Time to clinch the 2-1 victory and advance to the NWSL Semi-Finals.
QUOTES (courtesy of Wave FC’s communications team):
SD Wave Head Coach Casey Stoney:
On tonight’s match:
“Just immensely proud of the team. I think going one-nil down in those circumstances, and listen, Kailen Sheridan has dug us out of big holes this season and it was the team’s turn to dig her out of a hole, and I’m so glad they did it. She’s immense, and it’ll be a night for her with certain moments she might not want to remember, but that’s what teammates are for. I said it the whole time, there’s only one team I believe in the league that can come back constantly like they do, and it’s that team in there. So, I’m immensely proud. I thought we deserved it. If I’m honest, I think the second half, the amount of chances we created and didn’t take, I thought it was going to be a turning point in our season really, but that’s why to me Alex is MVP. Because in big moments, she turns up. So massively proud, but never to get too high. We’ve got to now recover and refocus, and we’ve got the semi-finals to play.”
On Amirah Ali coming into the match in extra time:
“We had planned for every scenario. So, if we’re down, if we’re up, if we’re tying, what will we do? So, when we were down, we had to change things a little bit. I had a plan like if we want to win it, but I felt like we didn’t need to go to a different system because we were creating so many chances. We were putting the ball in their box so many times and causing difficulties, I didn’t need to shift the system. It was just about can we take our chances and when we do, can we be really solid behind the ball. So, massively proud of the team tonight and what they were able to do. We have to make our own luck. We know that.”
On the environment she’s created:
“I think you have to show vulnerability with yourself first. You have to be prepared to show that you’re going to own your own mistakes. You have to create an environment every day where you’re going to live and breathe that, and you have honest conversations. And if you get it wrong, and I’ve got it wrong quite a few times with different players this year, and I’ve said sorry. Because what I try and do is get it right for them, but I’m also human, so I make mistakes. And when I do, I own it. I also think I leave space for them to have a voice. I trust them massively to give me feedback, and we always try to act on whatever feedback they give us because this is their team. This is their environment. I’m just a facilitator. I see myself as a facilitator to put them on a pathway to wherever they want to go. Am I always going to get it right? No. Have I gotten it wrong this season, yea I have. Quite a lot in terms of the lessons I’ve learned, but I also don’t hammer them for their mistakes. Because the minute you start doing that, you lose trust. If you start being dishonest, you lose trust. I’m very honest, I’m very direct. But that is the foundation for trust, honest critique and feedback. And I also take that from them. So, when I haven’t got it right, it’s not just me telling them, it’s them telling me too. I think we have a really respectful and trusting environment and incredible women that just want to do so well, and I’m so pleased my kids were here to watch them tonight because they’re such incredible role models for them to learn from.”
On Sofia Jakobsson’s performance tonight:
Best I’ve seen her. Best I’ve seen her hands down since she’s been here. I thought she was outstanding, the way she drove back, the way she got down the sides, the way she delivered crosses. I wouldn’t have wanted to play against her tonight. So direct and so impactful, and I’m just really pleased for her because I just think that performance was needed, and I hope that grows her confidence for next week.”
Wave FC Forward Alex Morgan:
On tonight’s match:
“The atmosphere tonight was incredible. It was so much fun to play in front of our fans for one last time this season. We are ready to go to Portland now after we recover our legs from playing 120 minutes.”
On prepping for the next match:
“We had the international break, so nobody had a game for two weeks. OL Reign and Portland won’t have had a game in three weeks. We need to build off this momentum. It [the game] went on longer than we would have wanted, we would have liked to have wrapped it up in 90, but just showing the fight that we did coming back from 1-0 down early in the first half, we just rode out the game and stuck to the plan. Inch by inch we got back in the game, and I think that is a testament to our character. We’ve been in this position a couple of times this year and have been able to claw our way out. It shows great character from the team.”
On the environment in San Diego:
“First off, Casey is a coach that I really admire. She is someone that truly leads this team and it’s great to have that honesty and open-door policy with her. It’s just building on trust from the very beginning and laying those foundations. This team- I think that everyone genuinely gets along with each other, we support each other, we just have a really great locker room culture and we have been able to build that over the course of only one season. Seeing what the club overall has tried to build in such a short period of time, you just can’t help but be proud to play for this club.”
On the best part of Wave FC:
“The best part of this team is the fight we have. Every time we step on the field, the fight that we have for each other. Just for example, this game, Kailen [Sheridan] made a mistake that she would have never made before and she has bailed us out so many times this season, so so many of us went up to her just saying ‘we got you, we are getting back in this game, don’t even worry about it.’. I think that support for each other is something maybe people don’t see, and you don’t get the opportunity to play on teams like that. That is really what sets this team apart.”
On describing her game-winner:
“We really wanted the goal and felt like the momentum was on our side after itr kind of had shifted. We were going wave after wave, no pun intended, and I felt like throughout the game a lot of my shots were being blocked, so this one I got the opportunity to go low and hard to the far post. I just took my opportunity and there is just no better feeling than winning a playoff game in front of your home fans.”
Wave FC Midfielder Emily van Egmond:
On tonight’s match:
“To reiterate what Alex said, it is always a pleasure to play here in front of our home supporters. We probably could not have gotten through the game without them tonight, so huge credit to them. We look forward to Portland now!”
On her equalizing goal:
“Obviously the first goal of the season for me, so it was special. But i would not be able to do it without my teammates, huge credit to them, they fought so hard all season and have been working so hard to get to this point. One game at a time now, we are focused on Portland.”
On playoff fútbol:
“In those moments, you have to take your chances, tonight I think we showed how creative we are in that final third and if we can build on that performance, you know, finals football, anything can happen. We’ll go to Portland, and we will review them. Huge credit to the team, the comradery of this team is something special and the girls showed tremendous fight tonight and I just couldn’t be prouder.”
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