San Diego Wave suffer worst home loss ever, as OL Reign win 3-0 in Challenge Cup

Credit: Deanna Gold/EVT Sports

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Credit: Deanna Gold/EVT Sports

The San Diego Wave played their second game in the 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup this Wednesday, May 31, against the OL Reign at Snapdragon Stadium. The Wave were coming off a 1-0 win against Portland Thorns in their first Challenge Cup match but were coming off a 1-1 draw against Portland in regular season play.

With two consecutive road games ahead in the regular season and a crucial away game against Gotham on the weekend, Casey Stoney used an alternate lineup for the match. For the first time this season, Kailen Sheridan was not between the sticks, as Shae Yanez received the start on Wednesday night.

Mía Gyau and Giovanna DeMarco also received their first starts in any competition this season, while Taylor Kornieck received her first start after an injury that kept her out several weeks. Alex Morgan did not even feature on the bench, as she received the day off by Casey Stoney. OL Reign also used an alternate lineup, which featured many talented players like Veronica Latsko, Jordyn Huitema, and Tziarra King.

The first half of the match was a quiet one, with not many clear-cut scoring opportunities from either team. The visitors breached the score in the 29th minute of the match, as Tziarra King sent in a cross that found Ryanne Brown, and her shot found the back of the net.

The first half ended 1-0 in Reign’s favor, and there was clearly something missing from the Wave’s attack. Casey Stoney decided to bring on Sofia Jakobsson and Naomi Girma for Rachel Hill and Kristen McNabb at the start of the second half.

In the 53rd minute, the Reign added another goal, as Olivia Athens made it a 2-0 game. The scoring play started when Madison Pogarch lost possession of the ball to Jordyn Huitema, who weaved her way inside of the penalty area and crossed the ball to Athens. Shae Yanez tried to save the first shot by Athens, but the 24-year-old midfielder stayed persistent and came in to score.

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The third and final goal of the match came in the 59th minute when Jordyn Huitema made her appearance on the scoreboard. The goal came off a cross by Tziarra King that Belle Briede deflected as the sphere made its way to Huitema. The Canadian striker was able to defeat Shae Yanez, as the goal came under VAR revision after a possible offside call, but there was nothing to it.

Melanie Barcenas came on for Jordyn Shaw in the 61st minute, as the 15-year-old did receive some playing time, and Meggie Dougherty Howard also received minutes off the bench, coming back from an injury. A crowd of almost 10 thousand fans at Snapdragon Stadium witnessed the worst loss in franchise history at the Mission Valley fortress for the Wave.

However, there are now more important games to focus on, Casey Stoney emphasized to her players and in the post-game press conference. “We haven’t got any time to feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got a massive game on the weekend. We’ve got a very long journey, thanks to NWSL for sending us across the coast after a midweek game, and we’ve got to prepare for that now.”

Stoney did express her discontent with the NWSL scheduling, as she has done previously throughout the season. The Wave will have that big match this Sunday, June 4, as the Southern California team looks to keep a three-game undefeated streak in league play alive at Gotham FC.

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