The pressure was on as time wound down Sunday, but a trio of San Diego Wave FC substitutes overcame it, as the team won their inaugural regular season match 1-0 over the Houston Dash.
With a scoreless tie heading into the 86th minute, rookie Mia Gyau sent a cross into the box that Katie Johnson headed over to Jodie Taylor, who drove her first touch into the back of the net.
Head coach Casey Stoney credited the substitutes, saying “It’s incredible that the players are coming off the bench and making an impact in the way that we want.”
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan led the stingy Wave FC (1-0-0) defense, fending off 11 shots from the Dash (0-1-0) and picking up two saves.
In the 44th minute Houston’s Rachel Daly found a clear lane inside the box off a cross, but Sheridan got enough of a touch to redirect the shot off the top crossbar.
The shutout by marked the third-straight match in which Sheridan has recorded a clean sheet against Houston, dating back to her time with Gotham FC.
Sofia Jakobsson had the earliest scoring chance for Wave FC, finding herself one-on-one with Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell in the seventh minute. The Houston keeper denied the left-footed attempt with her left hand. Teammate Marisa Viggiano then raced in to block Jakobsson’s open-goal follow up.
That early opportunity was San Diego’s only shot on goal until Taylor’s game-winner.
“In the first half we didn’t quite get pressure on the ball like we wanted to and we allowed them to play through us and make it a bit too easy for them,” she said. “Come second half, we changed a few things.”
Six Wave FC players made their NWSL debuts in the victory. Naomi Girma, Kelsey Turnbow and Belle Briede started, while Gyau, Marleen Schimmer and Amirah Ali came on as substitutes.
The teams played in front of 7,722 fans in Texas. The attendance at PNC Stadium marked the fourth-largest crowd in club history for the Dash, in their highest attended match since 2014.
The Wave return to San Diego for their inaugural regular season home opener at 7 p.m. Saturday against NJ/NY Gotham FC at Torero Stadium.
Tickets to the home opener remain available.