Angel City FC pulled off a thrilling victory on Saturday, rallying to defeat SoCal rival and top-ranked San Diego, 2-1, on the road at Snapdragon Stadium.

It was a statement win for 11th-ranked Angel City. After a poor showing during the first half of the NWSL season, the club fired head coach Freya Coombe on Thursday. Assistant Becki Tweed is serving as interim head coach until a replacement is selected.

“I think we just fed off her energy,” Angel City defender M.A. Vignola said of Tweed’s leadership. “She wanted us to play to our potential. We know what we have on the field. As teammates we know what we can do. She really brought it out of us. This past week of training was the most competitive training session we have had in two or three months.”

Stars of the game

All three goals in Saturday’s match were scored by defenders. San Diego got on the board first, with Kristen McNabb finding the back of the net in the 57th minute.

Paige Nielsen recorded the equalizer in the 70th minute, capitalizing on a corner kick, and Vignola scored the game-winner in the 89th minute to secure Angel City’s first win since April 2.

“We needed that one,” said Nielsen. “We knew that with the momentum, it would take the entire team to grind a game out. That is what we did today.”

“This being San Diego and being our first win in a while, it means a lot,” echoed Vignola. “A road win is always big. It being San Diego makes it so much better.”

Home away from home

Nielsen shouted out the Angel City fans who stuck with the team during their rough patch and traveled to San Diego for Saturday’s game.

“We have felt like people have given up on us. Seeing the fans in the stands was overwhelming,” she said.

San Diego head coach Casey Stoney said her side knew Angel City could be buoyed by their recent head coaching change.

“We spoke about the circumstances and we were very clear that when teams lose their manager, they bounce and they get a win,” Stoney said. “So it wasn’t something we were not prepared for.”

What’s next

With the win, Angel City (3-6-3) moved up one spot to 10th place in the NWSL standings. San Diego (6-4-2) fell from the top of the table to third after the North Carolina Courage and OL Reign each picked up points on Saturday to surpass the Wave.

Angel City and San Diego meet again in two weeks on June 28 — this time at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles for a Challenge Cup game. With NWSL players released for World Cup duty on the 26th, both teams’ lineups will look different at that point. The USWNT roster is slated to be announced this week; from San Diego, Naomi Girma, Taylor Kornieck, Alex Morgan, and Jaedyn Shaw are in contention for roster spots, while Angel City’s top hopefuls include Julie Ertz and Alyssa Thompson. San Diego goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan has already been named to Canada’s World Cup roster.

The two sides meet again on Aug. 5 — the same day the Round of 16 gets underway at the World Cup — for their second regular-season game.