San Diego Wave Futbol Club is officially knocked out of contention for the NWSL Challenge Cup after a controversial 1-0 loss against OL Reign that saw two of the Wave’s most important starters injured and taken out by the second half.
“In the last five, six matches, we’ve had some tough breaks. The ball’s not bouncing our way, reffing, calls aren’t going our way. I think our main focus going into the game was working hard,” Defender Cheyenne Shorts said. “We had metrics that we wanted to hit and just fighting all the way through winning our battles, and I think we fought hard.”
As soon as the match started, midfielder Taylor Kornieck went down with an injury after jumping for a ball and being hit in the back of the head by an opposing player. It happened again in the last minute of first-half stoppage time, but this time she took a hit to the front of the face, and blood was seen coming out of her nose. After the match, head coach Casey Stoney said Kornieck’s nose was broken on that play.
“It’s hard because what can I say? (Kornieck) goes up for a header, and they smash her through the back every single time,” Stoney said. “I can’t protect her any other way. I almost want to say to her get your elbow out, but then she’ll get sent off. So, it’s so difficult to say anything.
“Kornieck’s) absolutely devastated tonight. Devastated because it keeps happening to her, and I don’t blame her. I’m just angry, really angry because no one protects her. The people in green are out there to do one job. (Their) main priority is player safety? Failed.”
Though another important player to the Wave, Danielle Colaprico, who plays as a defensive midfielder, was taken out at halftime, she has been dealing with an issue with her ankle that was aggravated by the second minute of the first half.
The play itself by the Wave looked much better than their last match but still lacked a strong presence in the attacking third that saw only two shots in the first half. The team played better in the second half as they made more shots, controlled possession, and the pace of the game much better.
The one goal for OL Reign came in the 71st minute after a penalty was called against the Wave. Meggie Dougherty Howard ran in to apply pressure which set Ryanne Brown off-balanced as she tripped over her own legs. The referee called for a penalty, and the play was not reviewed by VAR. Bethany Balcer took the penalty kick and shot a great ball in to make it 1-0.
Stoney called it a “penalty that’s never given in a million years.”
The Wave return to San Diego looking to break their eight-game winless streak on Augus 5, against their Southern California rivals Angel City FC who have won both of their last two meetings.
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.