NJ/NY Gotham FC has a complicated history with San Diego. Not only has the team never won against Wave FC, but the team’s last game at Snapdragon stadium in August left Gotham with multiple injuries, including season ending ones for McCall Zerboni, Taylor Smith and goalkeeper Abby Smith.
“It was probably one of the hardest games in my coaching career, if not the hardest,” said Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amorós ahead of Saturday’s game. “We had four people really getting hurt and ended the game with [field player] Nealy Martin in goal and ten players, two to nil in injury time.”
Despite the adversity, Gotham managed a late stoppage time goal from Katie Stengel to deny the Wave a clean sheet. Even down by two, it was that game that proved to Amorós that his team could truly take it all the way in their worst-to-first journey to a National Women’s Soccer League Championship.
“I remember the opposition asking for the game to finish and thinking, my team is really a champion,” Amorós said. “We lost the game 2-1 in the end but that was the day where I thought this team actually has everything to be a champion and they are here because of that resilience.”
For Amorós, what showed on the field in August in San Diego was the team’s empathy and ability to overcome a difficult situation together, pushing towards the very end no matter what.
“When they saw their teammates getting hurt, they were really sad, but at the same time trying to do everything for those players to be proud of the team,” Amorós said. “That empathy and that football they played together is part of what got us here. That very difficult game on the emotional and psychological side, but also on the pitch.”
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