San Diego Wave kick off NWSL season with last-minute winner

March 26, 2023 GMT

Alex Morgan scored on a penalty in the 88th minute and the San Diego Wave kicked off its National Women’s Soccer League season with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday night.

The game was played before 30,854 fans at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium, a record for a NWSL home opener.

Yuki Nagasato struck first for Chicago in the 18th minute, connecting with a loose ball in the box on a corner kick. Amirah Ali tied things up in the 22nd minute, pouncing on a bobbled save that fell out of the hands of Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

San Diego, playing its second season in the NWSL, took the lead in the 32nd minute when 18-year-old Jaedyn Shaw blasted a shot from the top of the 18-yard box. Mallory Swanson added a penalty for the Red Stars that evened the score just before the end of the half.

A handball in the box set up the game-winning penalty for Morgan after a mostly quiet second half.

NORTH CAROLINA 1, KANSAS CITY 0

Forward Mille Gejl scored North Carolina’s lone goal in the 23rd minute and the Courage opened the NWSL season with a 1-0 win over the Kansas City Current at Cary, North Carolina.

Gejl’s low, driven shot from distance bounced into the lower left corner, just out of the reach of goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. The Danish forward joined North Carolina this season after spending the last two years in Sweden’s top division. Her goal was assisted by another Courage newcomer, Japanese midfielder Narumi Miura.

The Current, who advanced to the NWSL championship last season, started three rookies and had several players unavailable due to injuries, including free agent signing Debinha, a Brazilian midfielder who won two NWSL championships with North Carolina. Elizabeth Ball also came off injured in the 86th minute.

The visitors pushed for a goal in the second half and were level on shots with the Courage, at 10, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Franch finished with four saves.

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