San Diego Wave FC lost in the NWSL semifinals for a second year in a row after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Seattle’s OL Reign in front of a club record crowd of 32,262 fans on Sunday night.
“I thought we lacked any type of threat in the final third. Now that I reflect, I probably should have made changes quicker in certain areas; we just needed a chance to win the game,” Head Coach Casey Stoney said.
The start to the first half went exactly as Stoney had feared, with great crosses by the Reign that kept San Diego consistently on defense, but the Wave backline, coupled with a few great saves by Kailen Sheridan, kept it scoreless. When there were chances, the Wave were ineffective in the opposing final third, only managing a few shots on goal and the ones that were proved to be no problem at all for the Reign goalkeeper Claudia Dickey.
The Wave did ultimately have a great chance to end the first half with a free kick just at the top of the opposing box. Jaedyn Shaw had the ability to send a shot past the wall toward the goal, but after a lot of strategizing by the players, they gave a weak pass in front of the wall that got cleared quickly.
Neither team made any changes to start the second half, and it worked to the Reign’s advantage as they put one into the back of the net in the 47th minute. It came after a very unlikely cross by midfielder Veronica Latsko at the edge of the penalty box that sailed high and into the far side of the goal to make it 1-0. Three Wave players stood in front of Latsko, who Stoney said should have stopped the shot, which she called a “nightmare for a keeper.”
The Wave offense continued to look weak in the final third and looked worse as fatigue started to settle in. Stoney subbed on Sofia Jakobsson in the 61st minute and Amirah Ali in the 78th, but neither provided a strong presence to change the outlook of the match.
Their best opportunity of the night came in the 87th minute for a Wave corner kick when Stoney subbed on the dynamic forward Kyra Carusa and the tall Taylor Kornieck, but it was too late, leaving the final score at 1-0, taking away their chance at a championship.
The NWSL will still play in San Diego next week on November 11, as OL Reign will take on New York/New Jersey Gotham FC in the championship match, which will be televised nationally on CBS at 5 p.m.
Abraham Zepeda is a bilingual Chula Vista Native covering the Tijuana Xolos for EVT. He spent the summer of 2022 covering San Diego Loyal SC and San Diego Wave FC. He is also currently a student at the University of Oregon pursuing a degree in journalism.