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San Diego’s fairytale finish gets Reigned on, leaving the Wave yearning for more

Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports.

After clinching a top-two finish in the penultimate weekend of the regular season, and knowing that Snapdragon Stadium was announced as the host for the National Women’s Soccer League Championship back in July, the San Diego Wave had the potential to take home a first league title without having to go on the road in the playoffs.

Then, when they won the NWSL Shield on Decision Day, the potential for a fairytale finish got even bigger. Could a second-year club come in and win both the NWSL Shield and the NWSL Championship while hosting the final?

San Diego made waves last year becoming the first NWSL expansion side to clinch a playoff spot, but fell to the Portland Thorns in the semifinals after an extra-time win in the first round. This year, the club continued to set attendance records became just the fourth franchise to win the NWSL Shield. Unfortunately for them, the fairytale once again did not come true, and ended with a 1-0 semifinal loss to the Reign on Sunday.

“We weren’t at our best and that’s the hard part for me because I think if we’re at our best, we give it a chance to win the game because they didn’t really cause us too many problems,” head coach Casey Stoney said after the match. “We lacked any type of threat in the final third. I’ll reflect, I probably should have made changes quicker in certain areas, just to give us a chance of winning the game. Thought we got into their final third but we just lacked any type of clinical edge… But I said to [the team], they can be very proud of their season, very proud of what they’ve done this year, but tonight was disappointing.”

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