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Wave, Angel City match ends in draw

Star performances by goalkeepers Kailen Sheridan and DiDi Haračić earn the San Diego Wave FC and Angel City FC a scoreless draw.

LOS ANGELES — The highly anticipated showdown between Southern California rivals San Diego Wave FC and Angel City FC ended in a scoreless draw on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Both teams earned a point as San Diego’s record to 3-4-2 with 12 points and puts it 8th in the league standings. Angel City sits in 9th with a 3-5-2 record and 11 points. 

The last time the two teams met, Angel City pulled out ahead with a 2-1 victory.

Goalkeepers Kailen Sheridan and DiDi Haračić held off 10 shots on target, five from each side. San Diego’s Kailen Sheridan leads the league with her fourth shutout of the season. Didi Haračić led Angel City to their second shutout. This is the first of nine matches to have both teams earn clean sheets, bringing the rivalry record to 3-3-3. 

The match began with San Diego pressing high against Angel City’s defense, creating 13 shots, four of which were on goal. 

One chance came in the eighth minute by midfielder and former Angel City player Savannah McCaskill. She forced a turnover from Angel City by applying pressure in the box and shooting a ball saved by Haračić. 

McCaskill played lower in the field, allowing her to manipulate defensively and pick when she went up higher. Her position helped create chances and optimize space for her team.

Her passes to teammates María Sánchez and Mya Jones created shots and gaps in Angel City’s defense. She was Angel City’s all-time leading scorer before being acquired by San Diego during the offseason. 

The midfielder proved to be one of San Diego’s key players. She thrives in pressuring defensively and finding spaces to exploit against her former team.

“Savannah is an amazing player,” Angel City FC goalie Haračić said: “It’s always fun playing against her.

“She’s very competitive and it comes from a place of wanting to make everyone better. So it’s always an honor and a blessing to play with her.” 

The Wave had numerous opportunities to get on the board however they struggled to capitalize off shots on target. The team took 6 corner kicks, three of which were headed away or saved by Haračić.

Another pair of chances happened in the 29th and 31st minutes. Sánchez, who made her second start for the Wave, headed a cross too high into the box, sending the ball over the bar. A shot by Hanna Lundkvist went too high after she shot a tapped ball from Sánchez in the 31st minute. 

San Diego’s most promising chance at a game-winner occurred in the last minutes of stoppage time when Jaedyn Shaw shot a set piece into the box, finding Emily Van Egmond’s head. Van Egmond’s header bounced off the crossbar and fell to the head of Alex Morgan who made her first appearance since her ankle injury on April 19th.

San Diego created significantly more chances (15 shots to 11), utilizing the ball and spaces well as they maintained strong lines of defense.

Similar to their previous game against Bay FC, the Wave were able to gain possession and push towards the final third as well as earn more shots on target. Their aggressiveness in attacking meant they are able to sneak through defenders.

“I think we created a lot, we got to create more chances,” Wave coach Casey Stoney said. “I thought first half, we were very good, I thought we fell off a little bit in the beginning of the second half.”

Angel City was not able to secure a goal or improve their winning record at BMO Stadium (1-3-2). They held more possession overall (51.3%) but were not as effective with their shots.

Their first chance came in the 12th minute with midfielder Rocky Rodríguez sending a through ball into the penalty area for forward Claire Emsile, who wasn’t able to get a shot on goal after keeper Sheridan lost possession of the ball.

In the second half, there was a decline from both teams in shots but Angel City maintained defensive pressure. They saw their best opportunity for a goal in the 93rd minute as defender M.A. Vignola sprinted forward up the left wing and cut inside to shoot from the corner of the box.

Her shot got deflected off San Diego’s defenders and results in an unsuccessful corner kick. 

“DiDi (Haračić) had an incredible game,” Angel City coach Becky Tweed said. “The first 20 minutes were a bit shaky for us and she kept us in the game.

“Defensively (it was) a good performance. We have to take the positive of having a clean sheet, not just the defensive work that everybody did, but the mentality piece that we’ve really challenged our team with this week.”

Tweed said she saw an improvement mentality, an area of focus for the team.

“We talked a lot this week about our mentality and how we need to deal with things when they aren’t going our way,” Tweed said. “We showed a new level of mental strength and toughness tonight, a level that should be there. We should demand it from each other every week.

“The last nine minutes were crazy. You’ve seen us crumble in past weeks in those nine minutes. Today I felt like everybody was tuned in. We were together. The clean sheet is a huge positive and it’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time.”

San Diego remained winless on the road (0-3-2) and will play the first-place Orlando Pride on June 7 at Snapdragon Stadium. Angel City will next play Gotham FC at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on June 8.