Forward Alex Morgan scored on a penalty kick in the second half. Photo by Chris Stone
Forward Alex Morgan scored on a penalty kick in the second half. Photo by Chris Stone

Superstar forward Alex Morgan scored all four goals Saturday as the San Diego Wave took its season home opener with a 4-0 victory over the visiting NJ/NY Gotham.

Converting two penalty kicks and, in the second half, making two goals, Morgan helped the Wave become only the third National Women’s Soccer League expansion team in history to win its first two games in league play.

Morgan was self-effacing.

“The ball just dropped my way tonight after the two penalties,” she said. “All around, it was such a great team performance. We were everyone around this pitch.”

She added: “To have the turnout at our home opener [5,000 fans at USD’s Torero Stadium] and then to be able to put on a show like we did tonight, getting a clean sheet, which is extremely important, and scoring goals, I don’t think we could’ve asked for a better game for ourselves and for this city.”

San Diego goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan also had a standout performance.

Against her former club, she had four saves on the way to recording her second-consecutive clean sheet.

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Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan had four saves against her former team, NJ/NY Gotham. Photo by Chris Stone
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan made a flying save in the second half. Photo by Chris Stone
Alex Morgan, signaling toTorero Stadium crowd, became only the third NWSL player to score four goals in a game. Photo by Chris Stone
The San Diego Wave won its second match of the young season. Photo by Chris Stone
Forward Alex Morgan smiles as fans cheer her outstanding performance. Photo by Chris Stone

The Wave FC defense as a whole has denied 19 shots and yielded zero goals through their first two matches of the regular season.

Sheridan remarked about the team’s shutout.

“It’s really important to us that we represent our home really well and that we keep clean sheets at home,” she said.

Wave FC set the tone from the first whistle, creating scoring opportunities, dominating with a 31-to-8 shot advantage, and shutting down Gotham FC’s attack with a swarming defense.

The attacking trio of Taylor Kornieck, Jodie Taylor and Morgan continually created havoc for the opponent, but Wave FC didn’t capitalize on a scoring chance until a handball inside the penalty area by Gotham in first-half stoppage time set them up to break to scoreless tie.

Morgan confidently walked up, drilled a line-drive penalty past goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, and spun around to celebrate the 1-0 advantage with her teammates.

Game-changer Amirah Ali, who entered the match in the 64th minute, set up Morgan’s second goal when she paced ahead of the Gotham FC defense and then drew a foul inside the penalty box on a cross-over move against McCall Zerboni.

This time, Morgan sent the penalty kick into the right side netting to give Wave a 2-0 lead in the 66th minute. She would follow it up four minutes later when she forced a turnover from Zerboni feet away from the goal and swung around to rifle a shot past Harris once again.

For Morgan’s final score of the night, she raced into the box from the left, put a hesitation move on Ashlyn Harris, and brought the crowd to max volume as her fourth goal flew past the keeper and into the net.

The four goals by Morgan were her most in a competition since recording five for the U.S. Women’s National Team in World Cup Group Play against Thailand on August 11, 2019. It also marked only the third time in NWSL history that a player has scored four goals in a contest.

Captain Abby Dahlkemper left the match in the 35th minute after suffering an injury. Head coach Casey Stoney stated in her post-match interview that Dahlkemper is in stable condition.

Stoney said of Morgan and Sheridan: “World-class players have world-class games and that was definitely an example of that tonight.”

She said Sheridan’s save in the 74th minute was unbelievable.

“Listen, four goals…. [Morgan] has been playing well all season, but tonight she went to another level again.”

Stoney called it a great night for the fans.

“I’m very much of the opinion you’re only as good as your last game, so we don’t want the [next match, against Chicago] to be a low point for us,” she said.

“I said to them [in the huddle after the match] I’m going to ask more from you week after week, and I’m going to ask you to continue improving and continue developing. And that’s probably harsh coming off the back of a four-nil win, but it’s because I know we’re capable of more.”

Morgan hailed San Diego.

“There’s no doubt about it – I am home,” she said. “I think everyone can feel it and can see it.”

Said goalie Sheridan:

“When [teams] come here, we want it to be a really hard place to play and a hard place to score and we accomplished that today. People aren’t going to second-guess us anymore and they’re not going to take us for granted.”