Olympic and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe made her first appearance at Torero Stadium, but the San Diego Wave finished a week of three matches Sunday by collecting a point thanks to a record-breaking goal from Team USA teammate Alex Morgan.
The Wave tied Seattle’s OL Reign 1-1 in front of 5,000 fans at the University of San Diego.
“Overall, I felt like we had a pretty good team performance, a really tough week,” Morgan said after the match. “So it’s nice to come out feeling feeling good about this tie.”
The match maintains San Diego’s unbeaten home record in the National Women’s Soccer League regular season. San Diego moves to a record of 4-3-2 heading into next weekend’s match against Gotham FC in New Jersey.
Morgan got the home crowd on its feet early as she found the back of the net in the eighth minute of the match after Kailen Sheridan gave a helping foot.
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This goal tied Morgan’s NWSL single-season best of nine goals scored when she was a member of Orlando Pride in 2017. It also tallied Sheridan’s first assist of the season.
Morgan said of the goalkeeper, “Kailen is great with her feet, and her range is the best in the league… It helps us so much.”
OL Reign equalized the score with a goal from Jess Fishlock in the 38th minute from a one touch shot to the back of the net, for her seventh goal of the season.
Shortly after scoring the goal, Morgan was injured in a play and remained lying on the pitch while someone went to check on her. A group of young girl soccer players tried to coach her from the stands.
“Get up,” they yelled repeated, possibly out of ear shot of Morgan. “Shake it off. Shake it off,” and “It will be ok,” they continued and later shouted, “Be aggressive, be be aggressive,” possibly echoing what they have been told at their youth games.
The second half stayed level at 1-1 between the two teams with a high intensity end to the match and each team taking home a point from the draw.
The officiating in the match again brought some frustration.
“I don’t feel like a lot of calls went our way,” Morgan said in a post-match press conference. “Actually, a lot of calls went against us unfairly.”
“But at the same time, I’m just proud of this group for kind of getting through this tough week,” she continued. “And kind of showing a lot of grit.”
Morgan said that as captain of the team she voiced her concerns to the referees. “I want to speak on behalf of the team … He wasn’t protecting us in the way that I feel like a ref should.”
Wave head coach Casey Stoney also expressed her disagreement with calls, and was given a yellow card as a result of her exchanges with officials.
“The main priority of referees to protect the players and make the game safe,” Stoney said after the match. “And I didn’t feel my players was safe.”
Stoney continued, “I think it’s a question for the league if they think that’s an acceptable level of officiating…. That’s up to them to decide because I’ll just get fined if I speak candidly.”
The Wave made numerous shots on the net in the first ten minutes of the game. Stoney said she was very pleased with the start of the match.
“We’ve created chances now it’s finishing them,” the coach said.
The team played three games in the last eight days. Players said their fitness level has helped them stay strong on their legs.
The Wave tied in their last two matches, against the Portland Thorns and OL Reign, two teams that beat them earlier in the spring.
“Asked how she felt about playing against, rather than with Rapinoe,” Morgan said, “There was a lot of banter on the field, which is fun, but I was trying to stay in the zone and not not in engaged in that. “
“But it’s always fun playing against Pino,” Morgan continued. “She’s obviously a very technical player, she reads the game so well… And I’m just happy to see her back on the field.”
The Wave will prepare for next Sunday’s match against Gotham FC at Red Bull Arena. This will be Wave FC’s second match against Gotham FC this season. Their previous match up ended in a win for Wave FC with a score of 4-0, where Morgan set NWSL records by scoring all four of the goals.