Surf Snapdragon: San Diego Wave FC 1, Angel City FC 0
Home openers are the sporting equivalent of a first impression. It’s a chance to set the standard at home, where you defend with everything you’ve got. The place where you feel the most comfortable, the most supported. As the San Diego Wave FC opened their inaugural campaign in the friendly compound of Torero Stadium, tonight was when everyone circled the calendar. The moment that the whole season was built around. The rivalry game against Angel City FC, as they played at the permanent home for the very first time, in front of an NWSL record crowd.
The first half couldn’t have gone better for Wave FC. The team came out strong from the kick-off and never let up. Spice up the goal with shots and get the crowd in early. 32,000 people chanting “San Diego” is a different kind of support and it showed with the team harnessing that energy and putting it to good use. By doing it on both sides of the pitch, not only did they have chances early and often, but Sheridan was a brick wall and made sure the visitors didn’t spoil the party early. Then it happened.
In the 30th minute, San Diego had a moment of absolute brilliance. Sofia Jakobsson put in a beautiful ball from the wing which entered the box and found a leaping Jaedyn Shaw who, on just his third start for the Wave, made history as the first player to score at the Snapdragon Stadium. Predictably, the stadium erupted, shook and went wild as the future of the game was on full display both off and on the pitch tonight.
It was the only goal to be scored in the half, the team going into the break with the lead, and all the good feeling needed for a solid second half. If there’s one thing that tonight was proof of, it’s that a great goalkeeper is just as important, if not more, than a great attack. Kailen Sheridan had one of the best games of the season, making several saves, but none bigger than the one that came late in the second half. After being awarded a penalty, Angel City had a chance to equalize from the spot, but Sheridan was not about to give up easy goals on a night like tonight. She guessed right and put an end to Savannah McCaskill’s attempt, seeing her side leading.
Shaw’s goal is all the team needed to come away with the three points. The victory is huge for several reasons. First, it puts the team back at the top of the league standings – for now – in what has been a wild ending to the shield race. Second, it’s a win for your home opener, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. The first chance they had to defend Snapdragon, in front of a record crowd, and they succeeded, against their rivals no less. The team can enjoy this moment for the rest of the week as they won’t be back in action until next weekend.
It’s a moment that may have been a season in the making of what has been an incredible inaugural year, but the team hopes it’s far from the high point. With the playoffs looming, the team can bask in tonight’s glory, with the goal of doing even more magic in their new home during the playoffs.
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