Late-game heroics by Alex Morgan seals NWSL Challenge Cup for SD Wave vs. Gotham

Credit: San Diego Wave FC

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Credit: San Diego Wave FC

This Friday, March 15, the San Diego Wave started its 2024 NWSL season with the NWSL Challenge Cup title game against Gotham FC at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

The Challenge Cup has a new format in 2024, as it is now a single game between the NWSL Shield and NWSL league champions from the previous season. The San Diego Wave had a busy offseason transfer window, and Savannah McCaskill, Elyse Bennett, and Hanna Lundkvist, all new additions to the squad, started in this match against Gotham.

Naomi Girma, Jaedyn Shaw, and Abby Dahlkemper, who all won the CONCACAF W Gold Cup with the USWNT last Sunday, March 10, at Snapdragon Stadium, all started this match for the Wave as well. Alex Morgan, who also featured in the W Gold Cup, started the game on the bench,  but later had a massive impact in this Challenge Cup victory for the Wave.

Gotham FC bolstered their roster in the recent transfer window, adding heavily experienced players like Rose Lavelle, Crystal Dunn, and Emily Sonnett. Lavelle did not even feature on the bench in this game, but both Dunn and Sonnett came on as substitutions for Juan Carlos Amoros.

The first half of the match ended in a scoreless deadlock at Red Bull Arena, and Casey Stoney made a key change at halftime when Alex Morgan replaced Kyra Carusa. It was a very hard-fought match and there was no clear winner in sight, penalties seemed inevitable at Red Bull Arena, but in the dying minutes of the match, Alex Morgan appeared with a game-winning goal.

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In the 87th minute, the San Diego Wave captain scored via a header off a perfectly-executed corner kick by Savannah McCaskill. The Wave were able to hold off and with that were crowned champions of the 2024 NWSL Challenge Cup ton start off the new season.

The game was very hard-fought, and it was a superb defensive effort by players like Naomi Girma, Abby Dahlkemper, and the new signing Hannah Lundkvist. San Diego began this new season in the best way possible and will now try and begin the regular season with a win on March 23, against the Kansas City Current at Snapdragon Stadium.

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