It wasn’t the win that San Diego deserved. A pair of penalty decisions and a crushing own goal made sure of that. However, Taylor Kornieck’s 90th minute header ended the Wave’s four-game losing streak. It was a small triumph but one that was sorely needed.
The first half was dominated by two decisions. Neither came from players or coaches. Referee Adam Kilpatrick dealt with a pair of cries for penalties, one from each side, during the opening period.
Neither side had created much in the first 20 minutes of the match, but an error from Wave goalie Jessica Shae Yañez Couey proved to be very costly. Couey attempted to control the ball and play it forward but lost possession. While attempting to win it back from the Spirit’s Ashley Hatch, the two collided, leading to both tumbling to the floor. San Diego’s defense scrambled the ball clear, but the video assistant referee (VAR) called for Kilpatrick to look to see if Couey had fouled Hatch.
After two minutes of deliberation, he ruled that Couey had clipped Hatch’s foot, meaning Washington had a penalty kick. Hatch calmly sent it into the top right corner, putting the Spirit ahead.
Ten minutes later, San Diego appeared to have a penalty of their own when Rachel Hill was felled in the box. Kilpatrick was unmoved as he gestured for play to continue on. However, the play certainly seemed as if it warranted a VAR review. That never came, which left San Diego’s crowd to boo furiously in frustration. “It’s an absolute stonewall penalty, and it doesn’t get given.”, said Casey Stoney after the match.
The Wave did create more offensively as the half wound down but were unable to get a clear-cut chance. That changed right away in the second half.
San Diego won a corner just moments into the period, which was sent into the area by Jaedyn Shaw. Her ball found the head of Cheyenne Janae Shorts, who was on the field in lieu of World Cup-bound Naomi Girma. Shorts’ header didn’t have much power behind it, but it trickled into the bottom corner, leveling the score with her first NWSL goal. “Casey always instills in us that we are one in 26.”, said Makenzy Doniak while discussing the depth that was shown during the match.
Shaw nearly put the Wave ahead minutes later as she sent another corner into the box. This one nearly curled in as it glanced off the post before being cleared. “I thought we just needed to keep the game in front of us, and I thought the crowd was unbelievable.”, said Stoney.
It didn’t take long for the Wave and Shorts’ fortunes to change though. A strong spirit move down the right wing culminated in Dorian Bailey’s cross being turned into San Diego’s net by Shorts. The Wave came inches away from the lead in the 48th minute after Shaw’s near-heroics. Six minutes later, they were trailing again.
With the Wave needing a spark, Stoney turned to her bench, sending on 15-year-old Melanie Barcenas and Madison Pogarch to add some energy to San Diego’s attack. Five minutes later, Kelsey Turnbow and Amirah Ali were added to the offensive effort.
Taylor Kornieck nearly found an equalizer when she fired a shot from 12 yards out, but Nicole Barnhart managed to get her hands up to push it away. The Wave had been consistently finding chances from corners, often after the ball fell to Barcenas.
Kornieck finally created a moment of brilliance in the 90th minute when her header sailed into the top right corner of the net, giving San Diego a deserved equalizer. It was Kornieck’s first goal of the campaign, but it was very clear that the Wave were not content to share the points.
They pressed onward furiously, knowing they had eight minutes of stoppage time to find a winner. Amirah Ali had the best chance, as Turnbow sent a cross in while she was unmarked, but her header didn’t have enough power to snatch the victory.
San Diego will have to wait at least a month for their next NWSL victory, as three straight Challenge Cup matches will occur during the World Cup. However, if Kornieck’s goal serves as a momentum shifting moment for the side, it could have much greater ramifications than just turning a loss into a draw.
“We need to score more goals.”, said Stoney post-match as she discussed her side’s missed chances.
Sam is a Senior in High School. He has been writing for three years, and started at EVT in June of 2021. He’s headed to Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Communications in the fall of 2023.