Jaedyn Shaw isn’t old enough to drink or even to vote. What is she old enough for? She’s old enough to score the first ever goal at Snapdragon Stadium and help the Wave to a crucial win over California rivals Angel City FC.
The record-breaking sellout crowd of 32,000 was loud throughout, but once the match began, it was clear that San Diego had been able to eliminate all the distractions in the lead-up to the match.
It took just three minutes for Alex Morgan to put the first shot of the game on target, but it was sent straight to Haračić. However, it was a sign of things to come. San Diego put four first-half shots on target, and while Angel City had more of the ball, the Wave kept the play in Angel City’s half. The Wave’s pressure came from Sophia Jakobsson, as San Diego was consistently searching for the Swede on long balls over the top. Her third deep run of the first ten minutes set up a corner, which led to Taylor Kornieck sending Haračić into a dive to keep the scores level. Angel City grew into the game well, with Savannah McCaskill seeing her effort go just over the bar in the 16th minute. The two teams seemed to be feeling each other out, with neither team managing to threaten over the next quarter of an hour.
Shaw broke that stretch on her aforementioned goal, and it was set up by another long ball to Jakobsson. The 17-year-old phenom took advantage of a perfectly placed cross from Jakobsson, heading it into the bottom left corner. The shot beat Dijana Haračić, who was tasked with handling a ton of pressure from the Wave.
The lead was very nearly short-lived, as an absolute screamer from Jun Endo sent Kailen Sheridan into a full-extension dive. It was a spectacular shot that seemed to be destined for goal, but Sheridan managed to make an even more incredible save. Angel City continued to search for an equalizer as Claire Emslie appeared to be alone at the back post. When a cross came her way, Shaw was there, turning the open look into a contested one. Emslie skied the attempt with her head as Shaw scored one goal and may have saved another.
The 17-year-old was taken off in the 52nd minute, as she’s still building up her ability to play full matches. She was replaced by Kelsey Turnbow, who picked up a yellow card for her efforts in defense just four minutes later. The second half started off very evenly, as neither team found any clear-cut chances early.
Snapdragon’s crowd roared to life as Alex Morgan found open space, but she was eventually swarmed by three Angel City FC defenders and was unable to get a shot off. San Diego kept throwing up long balls as they searched for insurance, but Angel City’s defense seemed to always have it covered. Morgan was visibly frustrated, waving her hand angrily multiple times after wayward passes or missed opportunities. After the match, Morgan described herself as someone who played with emotion while adding that she felt that the defensive structure was not what she wanted.
In the 73rd minute, Angel City won a penalty kick on a tackle on the very edge of the box. After a 100th-minute penalty sent the Wave to a loss in their previous match in Washington, it was McCaskill versus Sheridan from the spot this time. McCaskill sent a powerful shot to the left, but Sheridan came up with a spectacular save. Sheridan, who leads the NWSL in penalty saves, came up with another heroic one.
She surrendered four goals in Washington. The most San Diego has given up all season. Her performance on Saturday night reminded the entire league that the performance in Washington was an anomaly.
Angel City kept the pressure on, sending shot after shot at the Wave goal, which might as well have had a brick wall in front of it. Sheridan was threatened plenty, but she had everything covered. The final whistle sounded, flares went off, and the Wave squad celebrated their first victory in their new home.
It was an ugly win, one that Abby Dahlkemper described as “Okay,” but a crucial one for the Wave, who had lost three of five before the match.
The victory sent San Diego to the top of the table, although both Portland and Kansas City have games in hand against the Wave. If San Diego can win either of their next two matches or if Angel City fails to win any of their final three, San Diego will lock up their place in the postseason.