OL Reign has been the San Diego Wave’s nightmare since its inception. In seven games, the Wave has never beaten the Reign (in all competitions). But the Wave had the chance to change that on Friday in an NWSL Challenge Cup game. And they also had the opportunity to right the ship on their season as they were winless in their last seven games.
But like clockwork, the Wave failed to beat the Reign, losing 1-0. They fell victim to the Reign as, 69 minutes into the game, Reign midfielder Ryanne Brown was fouled in the box. Then, 71 minutes into the game, Reign forward Bethany Balcer scored the penalty kick to give Reign the lead (and eventual game-winner).
Head coach Casey Stoney declined to comment on the foul leading to the game-winning penalty kick, saying she does not want to “give the league any more money,” referring to fines she has received for criticizing officiating recently.
The Wave only created a few quality chances but could not capitalize on them with a goal. Midfielder Taylor Kornieck and forward Mackenzy Doniak were the catalysts for these opportunities in the first 45 minutes.
Nine minutes into the game, midfielder Taylor Kornieck found forward Makenzy Doniak open in the middle-right side of the box after a long ball. Still, Reign goalkeeper Claudia Dickey saved Doniak’s shot.
35 minutes into the game, defender Madison Pogarch played a well-placed ball to Kornieck, who headed it on goal, but Dickey saved her shot.
However, Kornieck took two hits to the face in the first half and was instituted out at halftime, leaving the Wave without their tall midfielder on set pieces. Stoney expressed her frustration postgame regarding the lack of punishment for the challenges against Kornieck.
“What is it going to take? How hurt does she have to get before somebody starts protecting her,” Stoney said.”
Midfielder Danny Colaprico was also taken off at halftime, and came out wearing street shoes and ice on her foot, per Equalizer Soccer’s Taylor Vincent. Stoney said Colaprico has been dealing with an ankle injury for a couple of weeks and “didn’t really recover” after taking a “big tackle” in the first five minutes of the game.
Also notable was Kaleigh Riehl started with the captain’s armband, an honor that has been rotating for the Wave’s while typical captain Alex Morgan is playing for the United States in the World Cup. She was stout defensively, as the Wave’s back line only allowed three shots on goal.
“I thought it was a captain’s performance from her tonight,” Stoney said. “I believe at certain moments defensively she was very very strong and defended very very well.”
Next, the Wave play Angel City on August 5 as they close out their 2023 Challenge Cup games with a chance to start positive momentum before returning to league p