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Angel City FC opens NWSL Challenge Cup with draw against San Diego Wave


FULLERTON — Angel City FC was formed in 2020 with the announcement that its debut season would be in 2022.

Saturday, the team that was founded by actress Natalie Portman and backed by a long list of athletes and entertainers among its investors group, made its debut with the opening game of the NWSL Challenge Cup.

In front of 6,037 at Titan Stadium, on the campus of CSU Fullerton, Angel City played to a 1-1 draw against fellow expansion team San Diego Wave FC.

Angel City will play its home games during the NWSL Challenge Cup at Titan Stadium.

Savannah McCaskill will go into the history books as the first goal scorer in Angel City history, heading him a cross from Ali Riley in the 49th minute. After the goal, the team ran to the sideline to celebrate together. Even goalkeeper DiDi Haračić sprinted in to join the celebration.

“All the hardwork that we’ve put in in the past 6-7 weeks and all the work the whole club has put together in the last year to put this moment together,” McCaskill said. “It means a lot to be able to represent this this, this club and this city.

“I think it was a great first step. We still have five games left, so the first game is under our belts and there’s tons to learn from, but also there were great moments in there, some very good things to build from and overall I think we put together a solid shift.”

In the 81st minute, San Diego scored the equalizer off of a corner kick as Kaleigh Riehl was able to get the ball over the line, after a scrum had converged in front of Haračić.

“I think this is going to be a rivalry for sure,” McCaskill said of games against San Diego. “We scrimmaged them a couple of weeks ago and it was just as chippy, so we knew what we were coming in to. It’s going to be fun to continue this rivalry for the state of California. It’s two teams that want to win and I think that’s what you saw out there, battling for the ball, battling to try to score and battling each other.”

The remaining home schedule for Angel City includes next Saturday against OL Reign (1 p.m.) and April 24 against the Portland Thorns. The road games are March 30 at Portland, April 2 at San Diego and April 17 at OL Reign.

Angel City and San Diego are in group 3, along with the Thorns and OL Reign, who played to a 1-1 draw Friday.

“For us, it is about managing our squad,” Angel City coach Freya Coombe said. “We’ve got players all in different spaces right now, in terms of whether they’re able to have 90 minutes. We’ve got some injuries that we’re dealing with too, so for us it is about balancing that, getting people back into fitness and then knowing which players we can push and which players that we need to take off a little bit.”

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