Nov 1, 2023 - Sports

San Diego Wave FC will kick off NWSL playoff run at Snapdragon Stadium

Two professional women's soccer players run after a ball on the field.

SD Wave defender Naomi Girma chases an OL Reign player at a game in May. Photo: Sean M. Haffey via Getty Images

The San Diego Wave FC is poised to make history — again.

Driving the news: The Wave will host the OL Reign in the National Women's Soccer League semifinal at Snapdragon Stadium on Sunday in its pursuit of the club's first NWSL Championship trophy.

Why it matters: San Diego's club burst onto the scene last year, breaking attendance records, competing for a top spot in the league and making the playoffs.

  • The Wave built on that success and now hope to become the sixth team crowned NWSL champion in a decade of league play — an impressive feat for a team only in its second year of existence.

What they're saying: "We're all, so far, really proud of what we've accomplished this season, but we want more," midfielder Sierra Enge told Axios. "We want another trophy."

  • Playing at Snapdragon is particularly special for the rookie from Cardiff who was drafted 13th overall by her hometown club.

Catch up quick: The Wave entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed after winning the NWSL Shield with the best regular season record, earning a first-round bye and securing a home game in the semis.

  • Reality check: Seattle's OL Reign won all four matchups between the two teams this season. This will be the team's fifth straight playoffs, but they've never won the title.
  • Plus: With the bye and a mid-playoff pause for international friendlies, the Wave haven't played a game together since Oct. 15.

State of play: The home-field advantage could help lift the Wave, which recently set a new NWSL single-season average attendance record of 20,718.

  • It's only the second time a club has surpassed the 20,000-mark for one season.
  • Snapdragon Stadium also set the league record for attendance in a playoff match at 26,215 last year.

The intrigue: Both teams have several players with World Cup and U.S. Women's National Team experience, including Alex Morgan, Naomi Girma, Abby Dahlkemper and rising star Jaedyn Shaw.

  • This could also be the final NWSL game for the iconic Megan Rapinoe, who is retiring. The Reign's Emily Sonnett and Rose Lavelle are also players to watch.

Of note: Girma, a finalist for both 2023 NWSL MVP and defender of the year, is a reliable force on the backline.

  • Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who also plays for Canada's national team, is the reigning NWSL goalkeeper of the year and a top contender for the award this year.
  • Wave head coach Casey Stoney is again up for coach of the year after earning the title last season.

Flashback: In last year's semi-final game, the Wave lost in a devastating fashion when Portland Thorns' Crystal Dunn scored the game-winning goal in the final minutes of stoppage time.

  • Portland then beat the Kansas City Current to win the 2022 NWSL championship.

What's next: Kickoff is at 6:30pm Sunday. Tickets are for sale starting at $10.

  • Regardless of the outcome, Snapdragon will host the NWSL Championship on Nov. 11.
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