San Diego Wave fall 3-2 to Portland Thorns in Challenge Cup

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Credit: SD Wave

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Credit: SD Wave

San Diego eliminated from Challenge Cup contention after loss to Portland

The San Diego Wave fell to the Portland Thorns in a 3-2 defeat on Sunday afternoon.

The match was the second meeting between the two teams and took place at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon. The first meeting ended in a 1-0 win for the Thorns during San Diego’s home-opener at Torero Stadium. 

Sunday’s 3-2 loss sees the Wave go crashing out of the Challenge Cup as they now can no longer qualify for the semi-final of the tournament. 

“I don’t ever set my team up to go out there and give too much respect to the opposition, but I felt like we did that today,” head coach Casey Stoney said. “We gave them too much space, too much time, and we respected them too much.”

The Wave made five changes to the starting lineup from their 3-1 defeat at Lumen Field in Seattle to the O.L Reign.

Tegan Mcgrady and Naomi Grima returned in defense in exchange for Taylor Hansen and Kaleigh Reihl. Emily Van Egmond, Bella Briede, and Sofia Jakobsson came into the midfield for Taylor Kornieck, Kelsey Turnbow, and Katie Johnsson.

First Half

In the 4th minute, just like she did in the fifth minute of the Wave’s home-opener, Sophia Smith scored the first goal for the Thorns early. It looked like Smith had tried to cross it in from just inside the edge of the box but mis-hit the ball. Telford didn’t see the mis-hit coming as the ball sailed into the side netting.

By the 10th minute, Telford had two saves as the Thorns had four shots to the Wave’s zero. Quite the busy start to Telford’s day in goal for the Wave.

In the 20th minute after a beautiful play down the right flank by Morgan Weaver, Christine Sinclair hit her shot off the crossbar but saw it come back to Hina Sugita who headed the ball into the back of the net. The Thorns took a 2-0 lead as the Japanese international scored her first NWSL goal.

In the 40th minute, Sugita scored her brace. After two shots and relentless attacking by the Thorns, the ball found its way to Sugita in the box thanks to a scuffed defensive header by the wave. Calmly, Sugita placed the ball into the right side of the goal with her left foot. 

The goal capped off an extremely dominant half by the Thorns. 

The Wave didn’t offer a threat going forward until the last few minutes of the half. In one instance Alex Morgan saw a volley go just wide of the post and another instance saw Westphal’s cross end up heading towards goal and forcing a save out of Portland keeper Bella Bixby.

Portland ended the half with 16 shots to San Diego’s four along with seven shots on target to San Diego’s one.

Second Half

To start the second half, the Wave substituted off both Abby Dahlkemper and Jodie Taylor for Turnbow and Riehl. 

Less than a minute into the half, Turnbow found Morgan who saw her first shot deflected before playing the second ball across the box. Briede found herself on the end of the pass and lashed the ball into the back of the net. It was exactly the start to the half that the Wave needed, making the score 3-1 as quickly as possible with Briede’s first-ever NWSl and Wave goal.

“When it got redirected then she [Morgan] crossed it I was like where’s the best spot I can be to potentially score,” Briede said. “The ball across was great and I was just trying to stay composed and actually finish it but it was just so surreal, probably one of my greatest memories so far with the team.”

10 minutes later after a header by Morgan ended up going out for a corner. The ball came in from the corner and again found Morgan who saw her shot flash across goal and then come off the post and out into play. So close to cutting the deficit to one goal.

In the 66th minute the Wave substituted Kornieck into the match for Briede during a corner. A few seconds later — with her first touch of the game — Kornieck scored a header from Turnbow’s corner to bring the Wave back to one.

In the 72th minute, the Wave substituted Jakobson off for Amirah Ali in an attempt to energize the offense a bit more.

In the end, the hole that San Diego dug themselves in was too deep to recover as they saw themselves lose the match 3-2.

Yet again the downfall for the Wave was early goals. Of the 10 goals that the Wave have conceded, five of them have come in the first 11 minutes.

“We’ve lost both games because of the goals scored early,” Stoney said regarding the last two matches. “Three down at halftime in both games isn’t good enough. We need to look at how we start and maybe be a little bit more compact defensively in those first opening minutes.”

The Wave had a much better second half though, out-shooting the Thorns 12-2.

Morgan’s Players of the Match

Today’s players of the match go to both Bella Briede and Kelsey Turnbow.

To open the second half, both Briede and Turnbow provided a spark playing next to one another. 

It was Turnbow’s defense-splitting pass that found Alex Morgan who assisted Briede’s first NWSL goal. Then it was Turnbow’s assist from the corner that found Kornieck to bring San Diego back into the game.

It was an energetic and creative showing by the two young players, just unfortunate that the three first-half goals by the Thorns proved too much to overcome.

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