SAN DIEGO — San Diego Wave FC is out of the running for the National Women’s Soccer League Championship after falling to Seattle’s OL Reign in the semifinal on Sunday.
San Diego closed out their second season with a 1-0 loss in front of a sold-out crowd at Snapdragon Stadium, a devastating end to a historic year for the team.
At the end of the regular play, the club secured the NWSL Shield for the best season record with 11 wins, seven draws and four losses — an impressive accomplishment for a team only in its second year of existence.
It came shortly after the Wave clinched a top-two seed for the first time, securing a first-round bye in the playoffs and home field advantage for a semifinal match-up.
However, it was ultimately not enough to send San Diego to their first-ever Championship game.
After a scoreless first half, Forward Veronica Latsko made a stunning go-ahead goal for OL Reign in the first minutes of the second.
Despite multiple opportunities after the Latsko’s goal, the Wave still could not seem to make it through the Reign’s defense, continuing a pattern that held true to every regular season match up between the two teams both this year and last as Seattle bested San Diego in each one.
“I think it’s frustrating we weren’t at our best,” Head Coach Casey Stoney said in a press conference after the game. “That’s the hard part for me, because I think when we’re at our best we have a chance at winning a game.”
Sunday marked the Wave’s second consecutive appearance in the NWSL postseason in as many years. During their inaugural season, the club also made it to the semifinals, where they were eliminated in a 1-2 match against the Portland Thorns.
“Obviously it was not the end to the season that we wanted,” Defender Madison Pogarch said after the game. “Throughout the season we fought a lot of dips and we fought a lot of adversity … I think we grew a lot this year as a group and you just want to continue that into next year.”
While the Wave is out of the running for the title, the Championship game will still be hosted at Snapdragon Stadium on Nov. 11. OL Reign will take on New York’s Gotham FC in the final game, with kick-off set for 5 p.m. Tickets are on sale on the stadium’s website.
Gotham has made it to the Championship twice, winning the title in 2009 — the club’s inaugural year. Should OL Reign win, it will be their first title, despite two appearances in the penultimate game.
The Championship match will also likely be the final game for one of soccer’s greatest stars, Megan Rapinoe, who announced her retirement earlier this year.
Regardless of the heartbreaking loss for San Diego, there remains a bit of good news to close out 2023: Defender Naomi Girma, Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan and Stoney have all been named finalists for “best of” awards in their respective roles.
Girma is also a contender for the NWSL Most Valuable Player award this season.
Meanwhile, fans should feel a bit of pride, as Sunday’s crowd broke an NWSL record for attendance with 32,262 people at Snapdragon Stadium.
“That was incredible out there tonight in terms of the fan support,” Stoney said. “I’m very, very proud to be a part of a club that gets that support from the community, but we need to be better to try and get over the line and try to get to a final.”