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High tide: San Diego Wave FC 4, Angel City FC 2

The learning process continues for ACFC

NWSL: Angel City FC at San Diego Wave FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Whew, things are getting real for Angel City FC. The team traveled to San Diego for the first time ever as they faced off against San Diego Wave FC for the second time in the NWSL Challenge Cup. Looking to come away with their first win of 2022, the team also used the rivalry match — now dubbed Chanclásico by supporters — to unveil their brand new away kits for their inaugural season. The Wave were also in search of their first win, and what better time for them than at home. This time a winner would be decided in the rivalry match, and Wave FC the ones celebrating an inaugural win not just in the NWSL, but at home as well, overcoming ACFC 4-2.

After another tough loss on the road during their midweek outing, Angel City came into this afternoon looking to finally notch one in the win column. Unlike matches previous, it was the opposition, San Diego, who came out with their foot on the gas. Using the extra time off well, the home side were able to snatch an early lead with a goal from Jodie Taylor in the 19th minute. ACFC keeper, DiDi Haracic, did well to keep out the original chance, but couldn't get help from the defense and a failed clearance gave Taylor another bite at the apple.

The door was left wide open in the 39th minute, when San Diego defender Tegan McGrady put in the oddest own goal you’ll ever see. A slow pass back to the keeper which normally is no issue, caught Sheridan out in an awkward spot and the ball crawled past the line to equalize the match at one goal each.

Just as it looked like we would go into halftime all level, Alex Morgan fired a rocket in the final moments of the first half that went right past Haracic for the lead heading into the halftime break. After bouncing around defenders in the box, the ball was free briefly before Morgan took the touch and notched her first goal for Wave FC.

With goals flowing, it was only a matter of time before the queen herself decided the wait was over. Jasmyne Spencer sent in a perfectly placed ball into the box that found Christen Press who initially tried to head it in for goal. After the initial attempt was denied, Press gathered herself and the ball, and fired it in from close to bring Angel City level. The goal was her much anticipated first-ever goal for Angel City.

This was a perfect match to feature on the big CBS, as the stars were out and putting on a show. Unfortunately that came at the expense of. the Angels. A pinpoint pass and perfect shot from USWNT star Alex Morgan, gave the Wave a lead in the second half, as well as giving Morgan her brace.

NWSL rookie forward, Amirah Ali, put the final nail in the coffin, securing her first-ever NWSL goal to give her side the 4-2 lead late in the second half. The goal would be the last of the match, with the home side. celebrating their first win in the NWSL, as well as their first win at home.

For Angel City, the learning continues. Expansion sides rarely have it easy, and this is even more proof of that. In their last three matches ACFC have been outscored 10-3. Even with that eye-watering stat, the team haven't looked as bad as the scoreline would leave you to believe. Tightening up the defense would be a great start to improving, but mostly, it’s the little things that have to be ironed out before this team can find success on a consistent basis.

After several matches in a short time, the team will enjoy a long — and much needed — break between matches. Not only to get themselves healthy with several players nursing nocks, but a chance to work out some technical details as the preparation for the regular season continue. The next match is on the road against OL Reign in fifteen days, on April 17th. The NWSL Challenge Cup may be lost, but this is still a great opportunity for the expansion side to learn, and continue their growth. Get the losses out now, so that we can get those dubs when they matter the most.

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