San Diego Wave FC spend busy off-season accumulating depth

Credit: Josh Jimenez/ EVT Sports

The Show starts the first wave in Snapdragon history. Credit Don De Mars/EVT

It’s been a relatively long four months since the San Diego Wave FC crashed out of the National Women’s Soccer League playoff semi-final on October 23, 2022. 

In a historic inaugural season, the Wave suffered defeat to a stoppage time winning goal by ​​Crystal Dunn and the NWSL leader in championships, the Portland Thorns, who were en route to their eventual 2-0 final victory against the Kansas City Current to secure a third NWSL Championship.

Since then, the Wave has been restructuring its already strong squad in hopes of consecutive playoff pushes in its first two seasons. Which now looks increasingly more likely with the look of the squad during the commencement of pre-season training on Monday, February 5.


Out-Going Cast


Before addressing the influx of additions to this Wave squad, it’s important to acknowledge the departures for which the Wave has found replacements for. 

Forwards Jodie Taylor, Jackie Altschuld, and Katie Johnson, defender Taylor Hansen, goalkeeper Melissa Lowder and midfielder Sydney Pulver are all out of contract and will not return to the squad in 2023. The club has also chosen not to exercise contract options for defender Kayla Bruster and midfielder Marleen Schimmer.

Taylor and Johnson were arguably the most meaningful losses to the Wave squad. Taylor scored one goal in her 13 appearances, while Johnson nabbed a meaningful three assists in her 13 appearances last season. 

Credit: Josh Jimenez/EVT

“I would like to thank Katie, Melissa, Taylor, Kayla, Jackie, Marleen, and Sydney for their incredible hard work this season and for everything they have done on and off the field that hugely contributed to the team’s success,” head coach Casey Stoney said. “They will forever be a part of Wave FC’s history.”


Squad Additions and Contract Extensions


While certain players were released at the end of their Wave contracts, others received extensions due to their important contributions.

Defenders Kaleigh Riehl and Madison Pogarch both earned contract extensions while contract options were exercised for forwards Makenzy Doniak and Amirah Ali, midfielder Belle Briede, and defender Mia Gyau running through 2023.

Along with the extensions have come huge off-season signings for the Wave. Three players with considerable NWSL experience have joined San Diego ahead of its 2023 season: midfielders Megan “Meggie” Dougherty Howard and Danielle Colaprico, along with forward Rachel Hill.

Howard has played 103 NWSL games for the Washington Spirit and Orlando Pride since being drafted to the Spirit in 2017, contributing four goals and four assists in that time. Two of those goals came last season against the Wave during a 1-0 win for the Orlando Pride and a 2-2 tie in the reverse fixture. 

“I am so pleased to bring Meggie to the club,” Stoney said. “She was a player who caused us huge problems when she played against us last year and is a great addition. She is a player with great game understanding who can exploit space and create and score chances.”

Colaprico is another signing of massive importance. Her 143 appearances with the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL, combined with her five career goals and ten assists, provides plenty of experience for the Wave’s midfield.

“Danny brings with her a vast amount of league experience along with the ability to dictate the play in the midfield, and both of these qualities will really strengthen our team as we enter year two,” Stoney said.

Colaprico won the NWSL Rookie of the Year award in 2015 as well as being named to the NWSL second XI in 2015, 2016 & 2017.

Hill joins the Wave with 102 NWSL matches for the Pride and Red Stars and a notorious goal-contribution ratio. She has 15 goals and three assists in her five NWSL seasons.


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NWSL Draft


The NWSL draft on Thursday, January 12, offered an opportunity for the Wave to further increase the depth of its potential championship-contending roster.

Three new additions emerged from the night: midfielder Sierra Enge (13th overall in the second round), goalkeeper Lauren Brzykcy (33rd overall in the third round), and midfielder Giovanna DeMarco (45th overall in the fourth round).

Credit: AP Photo

Enge, from Cardiff, Calif., played at Stanford University from 2019-2022. The midfielder appeared in 79 games (57 starts), scoring five goals and 13 assists en route to three Pac-12 titles and one NCAA Championship. The 13th overall pick in the second round was acquired from NJ/NY Gotham FC in exchange for $100,000 in funded allocation money.

Brzykcy, from San Clemente, Calif., played at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 2017-22. The goalkeeper made 77 appearances (74 starts) and led the Bruins to victory in the 2022 National Championship in her final year at UCLA. Brzykcy also earned two-time All-Pac-12 honors as well as Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year in 2020.

DeMarco, from Gwynedd Valley, Penn., spent the last five seasons at Wake Forest University from 2018-2022. In her final season with the Deacons, DeMarco spent time in a variety of positions, such as defensive midfielder, central defender, and forward, scoring four goals and two assists. Her career tally sits at 11 goals and seven assists in 74 games (69 starts).

In response to all the additions, current Wave midfielder Kristen McNabb expressed her excitement about having a revamped deep roster. 

“I think we are really excited. I think depth is something that we struggled with last year. Having experienced depth is huge, especially in this league. I think bringing in the players we brought in, whether it was from the draft, trades, or pick-ups, was huge for us,” McNabb said. “I’m super excited to have Danny with us, I played with her in college, and I’ve known her since I was sixteen. I’m pumped that she’s here. I’ve always admired Meggie, and Sierra (Enge) has really impressed so far. I think whether they are starting or coming off the bench, that depth will be huge for us.”

With the 2023 Women’s World Cup this summer likely to occupy most of the Wave’s star players, this squad’s depth will be one of the most important factors in determining whether they can make a push for the NWSL Championship. The new additions are key, and they will have until Saturday, March 25, to gel and build chemistry as the Wave will take on the Chicago Red Stars in San Diego’s NWSL season opener at Snapdragon Stadium.

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