The San Diego Wave (3-0-1) narrowly lost 1-0 to Racing Louisville (1-2-1) on Wednesday, May 18.
The loss gave Racing Louisville its second win in 16 regular season NWSL games (2-7-7).
To start this season, both San Diego and Louisville have faced similar opponents but seen different outcomes. Louisville lost to Chicago Red Stars 2-1 and tied Houston Dash 1-1, whereas San Diego defeated Chicago 2-1 and Houston 1-0.
San Diego made five lineup changes from their previous 2-1 outing against Chicago. Abby Dahlkemper, Kelsey Turnbow, Sofia Jakobsson, Belle Briede, and Marleen Schimmer all made the start today, while stars Alex Morgan and Jodie Taylor started the match on the bench.
“The five changes were really enforced because we’re playing three games in the space of 7 or 8 days,” assistant coach Rich Gunney said. “ Does it disrupt things? Yeah, it does a little, but at the same time, we haven’t had time to train together since our last performance.”
Kaleigh Riehl, who scored the game-winning goal against Chicago and leads Wave FC in clearances (11), was acquired in the 2022 NWSL Expansion Draft from Louisville and was also dropped to the bench.
Head coach Casey Stoney also missed the match with COVID-19 protocols leaving assistant coach Rich Gunney in charge.
Fifteen minutes in, Tegan Mcgrady got in into a hefty collision during a 50/50 challenge. She could no longer continue, so Mia Gyau came on in her place.
“She was in quite a bit of pain during the incident. Some back spasms potentially,” Gunney said. “She couldn’t continue, so we had to make the change.”
Louisville were the ones to open the scoring 26 minutes in with one of the best goals you’ll see all season. After a foul by Van Egmond outside the box, Savannah DeMelo stepped up to take the freekick and placed it beautifully into the top right corner.
DeMelo’s goal marked the first time San Diego has conceded first in a match during this NWSL season. San Diego is also yet to come back and win a match in which they had a deficit during the 90 minutes.
The first half saw San Diego make plenty of convincing attacking plays, but Louisville always looked a threat on the counter-attack when San Diego threw too many players forward. Without the incredible composure and defense of Naomi Girma, Louisville may have scored another.
Both teams ended the half with six shots, but Louisville held the lead in terms of accuracy with three shots in target to San Diego’s two.
To open the half Schimmer came out for Alex Morgan, and less than 30 seconds into the half, Morgan already had her first shot on target.
After 20 minutes of solid defense from Louisville, San Diego was forced to make two more changes. Kristen Mcnabb came in for Briede, and Katie Johnson came in for Turnbow.
Racing Louisville did a great job in maintaining possession throughout the match, especially in the second half, where they forced the Wave to play defense for much of the half.
Makenzy Doniak came in for Jakobsson, who still has a cast on her right arm, with about 15 minutes remaining.
In the end, DeMelo’s first-half stunner proved too much for San Diego to overcome as they fell 1-0 to Racing Louisville.
Despite having the same amount of shots at nine and equal possession throughout the match, Racing Louisville looked the side more deserving of the win.
“Credit to Louisville. They came out and put in a really good performance, but I think there’s a lot of learning and positives to take out of this game for us.” Emily Van Egmond said.
“They’re a good team, and I think they learned a lot last year,” Dahlkemper said. “They have a very dangerous attacking threat, they’re good in attacking transition, and they’re good in set plays which sometimes can cost you a game.”
Next, San Diego Wave FC will travel to North Carolina to face the North Carolina Courage, who currently sits at the bottom of the NWSL standings. The game will take place on Sunday, May 22, at 11:00 a.m.