(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: Just when you’ve looked deeper and closer into your season schedule, the top-ranked team in your Conference is up next. That’s what ACFC had to prepare for in this road match and rivalry encounter set for the San Diego Wave’s fantastic home field, (aka), Snapdragon Stadium, on June 17th.
And stepping into the new interim Head Coaching position was Becki Tweed in her first NWSL match against none other than the Club’s Southern California big rival, the San Diego Wave. Let’s get right to the account that was written up by the ACFC’s Media & Public Relations Department.
ANGEL CITY FOOTBALL CLUB DEFEATS TOP-RANKED SAN DIEGO WAVE FC IN SAN DIEGO
SAN DIEGO (June 17, 2023) – Angel City Football Club beat the San Diego Wave on the road 2–1, coming back from a 1–0 deficit following goals by defender Paige Nielsen and defender M.A. Vignola.
The first half saw few scoring opportunities for either side, with the most notable effort coming from the Wave in the 17th minute. On a free kick from the right of the penalty area, defender Naomi Girma sent a low driven ball in for forward Amirah Ali near the goal line. Ali put her shot on target, but keeper DiDi Haračić did well to drop to the ground and make the save.
Defender M.A. Vignola made a good defensive play in the 41st minute to keep San Diego off the board. Midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard lobbed the ball toward Angel City’s goal from the central third of the field, and Ali looked to be in on goal when she made a run to pick that ball up, but Vignola got back in time to make the save.
The final chance of the half came with a strike by Angel City midfielder Lily Nabet from a few yards outside the penalty area, which she curved just wide of the right post.
San Diego opened the scoring in the 57th minute when they had a throw-in high up the pitch and made a few passes to get the ball to forward Alex Morgan, who played a sideways ball across the edge of the 18-yard box. Defender Kristen McNabb made a run and met the ball just outside the penalty arc, where she took a hard left-footed shot that Haračić had no chance to save.
Angel City kept fighting and forced the momentum their way after the goal. After a handful of forays into the goal area, including a close-range shot by Thompson in the 54th minute that went into the side netting, they finally pulled one back. In the 69th minute, a corner kick by midfielder Clarisse Le Bihan fell to defender Paige Nielsen, who received the ball with her chest, let it drop, and fired off a left-footed rocket that beat keeper Kailen Sheridan and landed in the back of the net.
In the 84th minute, ACFC defender Jasmyne Spencer came close when she ran onto a lofted ball into the box by midfielder Savannah McCaskill, cut inside, and shot for the far post—but her attempt went wide.
The visitors got the go-ahead goal in the 88th minute after forward Scarlett Camberos picked up a misplayed ball by forward Melanie Barcenas, dribbled toward goal, and sent a short pass to Vignola as the latter made an overlapping run into the box. Vignola struck with her first touch and put the ball inside the near post, where Sheridan got a piece of the ball but failed to stop it.
M.A. Vignola’s scores first NWSL game-winner
Scarlett Camberos’ earns first career NWSL assist
Paige Nielsen’s scores first NWSL goal since Aug 2021 for WAS vs HOU (and therefore first for Angel City)
Becki Tweed is the 13th NWSL Head Coach to win her first game in charge (all competition), and just the second woman.
[ACFC Defender M.A. Vignola]
On the meaning of a road win in San Diego…“[This was] huge. This being San Diego and being our first win in a while, it means a lot. A road win is always big. It being San Diego makes it so much better.”
On Coach Becki Tweed’s leadership…“I think we just fed off her energy. Her taking this big step as our head coach. 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.”
On what she felt during her goal…“It is a rush. Especially being here with the environment. It is loud. You don’t hear your thoughts. You put your head down and do what you know how to do and we both did that and we came out with a win because of it.”
On celebrating Juneteenth this weekend…“I think really what this week was all about was togetherness. I think we showed that on the field and it being Juneteenth makes it that much better. Everyone on our team supports each other no matter what – black, white, we are together. It is a great environment to be in. We push each other and we are better for it.”
[ACFC Defender Paige Nielsen]
Thoughts on the match…“We needed that one. We did. We knew that with the momentum, it would take the entire team to grind a game out. That is what we did today. We were in it together and it was a team performance. Not our best performance actually, but we did the dirty things right.”
On Interim Head Coach Becki Tweed’s leadership…“Becki is an amazing person and an amazing coach. She really stepped into a huge role. It is not easy. That is why I don’t want to be a coach. We really respect her and trust her and we realize that it isn’t going to be perfect at first and that we are still growing.
On the massive fan contingency that came from LA to support them…“Fans on social media – it has been hard. We have felt like people have given up on us. Seeing the fans in the stands was overwhelming. Not just us as a team are in this together. It is the entire community and city of LA. It means a lot.”
On the overall rivalry against San Diego…“San Diego is such a good side. They are very tactical. They always bring their best selves to every game. I think every game is going to be a battle with them. It is just really fun.”
[ACFC Interim Head Coach Becki Tweed]
On winning the rivalry match versus San Diego…“They are at the top of the league, and this is our rivalry game, so it comes with more excitement and chatter around the league. We went into this game knowing we had to be the best version of ourselves to get something out of this. We’ve been speaking about how it isn’t just 11 players. We need to find a way to come together collectively as 26 players to really put on a performance. Along with focusing on how we can support each other and bring energy into every moment.”
On the team’s focus coming in to the match…“This group this week has been incredible. They were able to come together and focus on what they can control. They focused on soccer, and they came in with a real belief that we could come off the field with a win, even when we went down by one. We talked all week about how we could come together and how we could put in a complete performance.”
“This performance was more complete. We were organized defensively, and we always believed that we could win the game. It’s been an emotional and crazy week, but as a coaching staff, we’ve pulled together, and I think we’ve come up with a game plan that has allowed us to get back in the game.”
“Our thought process was, ‘How do we improve in the details and the moments where you win and lose games?’ and that was a real focus for us. We wanted to stay compact and limit their chances but also focus on how we can break them down and be who we want to be in the attacking third. We want to really express ourselves and play to our strengths.”
On her first win as a head coach in the NWSL…“This win is very special, and I will always remember it. This is a great moment and something I need to process and enjoy it. For me, I am already thinking about next week and how we can be better and continue to grow. We needed this as a group. We needed to come together, and we needed these three points more than anything.”
On how the team will continue to move forward…“We let the players enjoy this today, then we travel back as a group and get back into next week. We have to look into Houston and how we can take advantage of them, but we really need to focus on ourselves and ensure that we are focused on us and who we want to be.”
“We need to continue to grow and continue to be the best version of ourselves. This is an incredible group of players. We need to know that we can go toe to toe with anybody in this league, we just have to remain focused throughout the week.”
On Alyssa Thompson’s performance…“Alyssa is a special player. She’s come into this league and really put a stamp on who she is and who she wants to be. The crazy thing is that she’s still 18 and she’s only going to continue to grow. When she plays with freedom and she plays with the weight of the world off of her shoulders, she is incredible, and our goal is to continue to help her and to continue to watch her grow.”
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