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NWSL Race to the Shield: San Diego Wave win in second year

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Alex Morgan celebrates with teammates after the San Diego Wave won the 2023 NWSL Shield. (Abe Arredondo/USA TODAY Sports)

In just their second year as a team, the San Diego Wave have won the NWSL Shield.

Sunday’s 2-0 win over Racing Louisville pushed the Wave into the top spot in the standings, and then the Portland Thorns’ 5-1 loss to Angel City FC sealed San Diego’s place atop the regular-season standings.

So at the end of the NWSL’s first Decision Day, the Shield was presented to the Wave. They finished with 37 points and a record of 11-4-7 (W-D-L). The Thorns finished in second place with 35 points.

In San Diego’s first season as an expansion team in 2022, the club finished third in the league. In 2023, the Wave were even better.

The season-ending win also proved poetic, with Alex Morgan and Jaedyn Shaw scoring for San Diego. They’re the top two scorers for the Wave this season, and perhaps there was no better way to close out the campaign than with goals from their veteran leader and their 18-year-old star.

For Morgan, winning the NWSL Shield in the team’s second year represents “quite an accomplishment.”

“I was just thinking, ‘F*** yeah,’ just so proud of this team,” the 34-year-old forward said after the game. “It’s quite an accomplishment to be able to do this in the second year for an expansion team.

“We know that we have this special opportunity to host the final, and we want to be there. We want to be that team that leads San Diego to a championship.”

With the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs, the Wave are cresting at just the right time. And the NWSL Championship match is set for 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 11, at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium, so if they live up to their seeding, they will host the final on their home turf.

And while head coach Casey Stoney knows what the NWSL Shield means, she also knows that it makes her team an even bigger target in the playoffs. But she’s not letting that deter the Wave.

“We will be the team to beat,” she said. “We should be the team to beat because we just won the Shield.”