Last season, Sierra Enge watched the San Diego Wave take on Angel City FC in September as a fan. She turned on the TV and cheered for both the Wave and the attendance record that the teams were hoping to break.

For Enge, it was an important night in women’s soccer. The sellout crowd of 32,000 fans shattered the NWSL single-game attendance record, and Enge watched her hometown team — one that several of her friends played for — secure a victory over their in-state rival in their first game at Snapdragon Stadium.

“I was like, ‘Wow.’ It just shows how much women’s sports are growing and how much San Diego is just supporting the growth of it,” Enge said.

That moment was big.

This one is bigger.

Enge, who grew up in San Diego County, is now playing for her hometown team and experiencing the rivalry with Angel City firsthand.

The Wave played in Los Angeles earlier this season, coming away with a 2-0 victory on April 23. On Saturday, the two clubs square off at Snapdragon Stadium for their second regular-season meeting of the year. San Diego is coming into the game on a five-match unbeaten streak and in first place in the NWSL standings, while Angel City is looking to find its footing after dropping to 11th.

“I’m just excited to be a part of it,” Enge said of the rivalry. “I feel like just the attendance and the hype around this game last year was so incredible. And then when we played Angel City earlier this season on the road, you can just tell that there’s kind of a different energy around the game.”

From growing up in Cardiff, a beach community located 22 miles from San Diego, most of Enge’s soccer memories and experiences are based in California. Before being drafted 13th overall by the Wave in January, the midfielder played college soccer at Stanford. There, Enge remembers batting Santa Clara in “emotionally driven” matches. She says Stanford didn’t have a clear rival like San Diego does with L.A., but the battles with the Broncos in California were always intense.

Enge won an NCAA Championship with Stanford in 2019. (AI Chang/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

“Any time you play against a rival it’s just fun because you know all the girls on the team so well, and it’s that way with Angel City,” she said. “The better you know a team, sometimes the more fired up you can be.

“It’s one of those games where you are a little bit more nervous before, and the first five minutes of the game are probably a little bit chaotic, but after that it is just a great environment.”

Enge has added motivation every time she takes the field for San Diego. Growing up, she never dreamed that her hometown would have a professional women’s soccer team. But San Diego has always been a hotbed for soccer talent, and even now, several of her teammates played with or against her at the club and college levels.

“Southern California in general is just such a hot spot for soccer,” Enge said. “And the ability to be able to challenge yourself every day and play against better players and get yourself out of your comfort zone is something that I think is pretty unique at the youth soccer level. It’s definitely something that you don’t get all over the country.”

Like most aspiring soccer players, Enge spent her formative years watching the U.S. women’s national team. Back then, she didn’t know of any other ways to play professional soccer. Then, she learned about the NWSL and started following the best players in the country.

When she was drafted by the Wave, Enge received a warm welcome from Alex Morgan, another California native and a player she had long watched and admired.

Enge has made a point to soak up every bit of advice Morgan gives her, from how to be a professional to how to stay patient during the challenges of a rookie season. The 23-year-old has started all five regular-season matches she’s appeared in so far for San Diego, playing a full 90 minutes in four of them and scoring her first NWSL goal last month.

“I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can from her, because she excels in every aspect of being a female athlete,” Enge said of Morgan.

“Honestly, if you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be teammates with Alex Morgan, I would have said, ‘There is no way.’ But it’s been such a special experience.”

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Sierra Enge plays midfielder for both Stanford University and the United States U20 women’s soccer team. At Stanford, she was part of the 2019 national champion winning squad that knocked off North Carolina in PKs. Below, in her own words, Enge shares what the last few weeks have been like as an athlete in quarantine.

Six weeks ago, I was in the Dominican Republic playing for the United States U20 women’s soccer team in the CONCACAF final against Mexico. Though we had already qualified for the World Cup to be hosted by Costa Rica and Panama in August, we were determined to win the tournament.

The following day I flew back to Stanford with a first place medal and an entire row to myself on the flight.

I was so happy, I started planning out my next few months while still in the air. We were supposed to have a training camp in Spain in April and two domestic camps in June and July. I knew I had to craft a spring quarter class schedule that would allow for these absences, and I was already trying to communicate my availability to my summer internship.

Fast forward to today, and I am now quarantined at home with my family taking online classes and working out on my own. Like billions of people around the world, I have no idea what the next few months hold. In just a few short weeks, I went from a period of excitement where my biggest stress was figuring out how to manage my time, to a new period of uncertainty and unknown (and plenty of free time).

I do not know when the next US training camp will be, or if the U20 World Cup will happen in August. I do not know when I will be seeing and training with my Stanford teammates again. Simply put, I do not know what the future holds.

My spring season at Stanford has been cancelled and I am now responsible for training and working out on my own while preparing for both a U20 World Cup and my fall college season, both of which are now in doubt. This spring was going to be crucial for our preparation at Stanford. Though we lost some important seniors to graduation, those of us returning are determined to win back to back national championships. Everyone was excited to get after it in spring and set the tone for the upcoming season.

For a team sport like soccer, training together is essential. Movement on and off the ball and some of the finer intricacies of the sport are nearly impossible to work on individually. Perfect cohesion within your 10 person group is required to attack and defend effectively. You can’t practice playing with other people when you’re by yourself. In addition, there is a difference between being in shape and being in soccer shape, and the only way to really be fit for a full 90 minute game is to play in games.


Another important aspect of our team that is gone is the social piece. My Stanford teammates are my sisters. We have so much love for each other and truly enjoy the time we get to spend together. This bond is what makes us click on the field.

In contrast, I’m not as close with my US teammates, as we come from all over the country and all different schools, meaning that having those camps together was going to be vital for us growing closer and bonding as a team. We are on a mission to win the U20 World Cup for our country for the first time since 2012, and we want to do everything possible to give us an advantage.

Not only am I away from my teammates and unable to play in games, but the role of soccer and sports in my life has totally changed. I used to wake up on the weekends to watch Premier League games and break up my homework during the week by watching the Lakers defend Staples Center. This part of my life is now temporarily gone, and I miss watching athletes push themselves and compete to the very best of their abilities.

This time away, however, has made my love for soccer and sports evidently clear. I am eager to be able to turn on the TV again and for there to be so many live sports on, that I have to take a moment to decide which one to watch. I also know that when I finally step back onto the field, I will play with both joy and a newfound appreciation for the sport. When the ball hits my foot in my first game back, I will definitely have a smile on my face.

One of my favorite mantras is “control what you can control.” During this time of so many uncontrollables, I am finding things I can control.

I am lucky to have an older brother who plays soccer at Tufts University and a younger sister who is going to play at Pepperdine in the fall. The three of us have been able to find open fields and make the most of our training. I am also lucky to live near the beach with awesome running trails to maintain my fitness.

If the coronavirus has given me anything, it’s time. Time that I may not always have to work on my weaknesses and develop new areas of my game, as well as time to work on those parts of my life that aren’t soccer. I am reading, doing puzzles, and practicing meditation. Most importantly, the virus has also given me more time with my family.

It is truly incredible how quickly things in your life can change. Rather than seeing my Stanford teammates everyday, I am calling them via Zoom. Rather than being in camp with the US, I am training on my own and staying in touch with my teammates and coaches via text and email.

I went from the high of winning a National Championship and a CONCACAF title within three months of each other to being home with absolutely no idea as to what comes next.

Despite these peaks and valleys, I am controlling what I can control and making the most of my time. Still, I feel for the college athletes whose seasons got cut short and cancelled. I feel for all the Olympians who were training for their shot at a gold. And I feel for athletes of all levels who can no longer train and compete as they used to, because I know just how important sports can be to someone’s identity and sense of purpose.

I urge everyone to control what you can control. Stay positive and know that the moment you get back to playing the sport you love, you will do so with a newfound passion and intensity.