In its first home match of the season, in front of a sellout crowd of 6,000 fans, San Diego Wave FC fell to Portland Thorns FC 1-0 at Torero Stadium.
The crowd was waiting for that moment to unleash an explosion of energy when the Wave scored, but that moment never came despite the chances that were created.
“Obviously, I am bitterly disappointed we didn’t get the win,” head coach Casey Stoney said. “We came here to win and given how we played, I thought we at least deserved to come out of it with a point but it didn’t go our way.”
The Thorns struck early. In the 4th minute, a Thorns midfielder played a through ball past the Wave defenders into the right side of the 18-yard box to Natalia Kuikka. She squared the ball to a wide-open Sophia Smith for a tap-in past Sharidan and quieted the excited crowd early in the match.
It took the Wave some time to get into the game, but settled in and started to dictate the play for the next 15 minutes after the goal.
Alex Morgan had chances a minute apart, but both of her shots went right into the keeper’s hands.
Had it not been for Sheridan’s big saves in the first half, it could have been 3-0 going into the half.
The Wave were the more dangerous team in the second half and created more chances. Sheridan had less work to do in the second half compared to the first half.
Second half substitute Amirah Ali made an impact upon coming on. She drew what could have been called a penalty kick in the 55th minute and had a chance in the 69th minute on a corner kick with a header at the back post, but couldn’t connect cleanly.
“I thought it was a penalty,” Stoney said. “I thought it was from where I stood but I am going to say that because I’m the coach who wants the penalty. But listen, the referees have a hard job. If we’re relying on the referee to give a decision, that means we haven’t done enough.”
The subs that coach Stoney made in the second half came in and impacted the game and made it look like the Wave were going to get their equalizer.
“We call them game changers,” Stoney said. “I thought they came on and brought a new energy. I thought Amirah came on really causing problems, and I’m so excited to see where she can go and what she can become.”
The Wave couldn’t capitalize on their chances and left the sold out crowd on the edge of their seats waiting to explode.
The atmosphere brought by the fans was felt by the Wave players on the pitch.
“It was so loud and we could feel it,” said Sheridan. “It was like having a 12th man out there. They were just giving everything, and we need that every week. We need the San Diego spirit with us. I think this city is so special.”
The Wave gets their next chance to give its fans a chance to roar when they host Angel City FC on Saturday, April 2 at 1 p.m at Torero Stadium.