San Diego Wave fall to Washington Spirit in 7-goal thriller

Credit: Wave

Credit: SD Wave

A last-minute penalty by Ashley Hatch keeps Washington’s playoff hopes alive.

The San Diego Wave (2nd at 9-4-6, 31 points) was defeated by the Washington Spirit (8th at 2-10-6, 16 points) 4-3 on Saturday, Sept. 10th, in a thriller that went down to the very last minute.

The win gave Washinton their first win since May 1st and also kept their playoff hopes alive as a tie or loss would have eliminated them from contention.

Only once in NWSL history has the previous year’s NWSL champions missed out on the playoffs the following season. If Washington does not want to add their names to this disappointing list, they’ll have to go perfect in their last three games of the season.

With the loss, San Diego remains in second place and will have to hope that the Portland Thorns will not pull away with first as the Thorns have one extra game to play.

The scoring began early in this seven-goal thriller. San Diego picked up the first goal of the match after a perfectly placed ball by Emily Van Egmond found Jaedyn Shaw in the bow. Shaw, the 17-year-old prospect, then guided the ball beautifully into the bottom corner for her second goal in her second-ever appearance. 

“I definitely am happy about the goal, but of course, I’m a little bummed about the result,” Shaw said.

“This is one very, very talented footballer,” head coach Casey Stoney said, “I would’ve liked us to get her on the ball a lot more. I thought we could’ve played wide a lot earlier, but we kept playing central.”

San Diego’s lead only lasted four minutes. Washington had their equalizer following a counterattack in the 11th minute. Ashley Sanchez picked out Tara McKeown in San Diego’s box, and McKeown dispatched the ball past a flying Kailen Sheridan.

Washington would then turn this game on its head. During a chaotic set piece in the 30th minute, Madison Pograch’s clearance only went as far as Amber Brooks, who took one touch before sliding the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. 

Credit: SD Wave

Two minutes before halftime and Brooks had her second of the match. Despite going scoreless since the 2019 season, the center-back managed to score a brace just before the half. Her second goal came off a corner where her header at the back post just looped over Sheridan’s outstretched arm.

The goal marked San Diego’s first time conceding three goals during their inaugural regular season.

In the 56th minute, Brooks was on the other end of fortune for once. Following a long ball by Sheridan, Alex Morgan darted into the box before being tackled by Brooks for a penalty. Morgan confidently dispatched the penalty, making her a perfect five for five on penalties this season.

In the 82nd minute, San Diego and Morgan brought the game back to equal terms. Following a debatable corner call, Morgan scored with what looked like the side of her head to tie the game at three. The goal also brought Morgan’s goal tally to 15 this season as she remains the league’s highest goalscorer.

With seven minutes of extra time added on after the 90, both teams were pushing for the winner.

In the last minute of extra time, Washington got their opportunity. Van Egmond fell for McKeown’s fake and took the striker down in the penalty box. With the game on the line, Ashley Hatch stepped up and blasted the ball just past Sheridan’s fingertips to give Washington a massive win.

“Disappointed for the players because I thought they massively fought to get back in the game and showed huge spirit and character, but obviously our luck ran out at the end,” Stoney said.


Next, the San Diego Wave will take on Angel City in one of the most anticipated matches in NWSL history. The Wave has sold out its brand new venue, Snapdragon Stadium, and will set the attendance record for an NWSL game when Angel City visit on Saturday, Sept. 17.

The game is also a vital match for both teams’ playoff hopes. Angel City sits just outside the playoff bracket, while San Diego could drop at any time with a poor run of form. 

Snapdragon Stadium will be in for a treat as these two teams, in their inaugural seasons, will look to put on a show for the NWSL record 32,000 fans in attendance.

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Morgan Prickett
Morgan Prickett is currently studying Journalism at San Diego State and is on pace to graduate in 2023. He was born in Libreville, Gabon and lived in Pretoria, South Africa for 7 years until he moved to the Bay Area. He's a massive soccer and basketball fan; mainly supporting Arsenal of the English Premier League and any team Chris Paul is on. He's also an avid supporter of all sports teams in San Diego and loves watching all San Diego State sports.
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