LOS ANGELES — Claire Emslie arrived in town earlier in the week and officially joined Angel City FC Thursday.
By Saturday night, she stamped her name in the Angel City record book with her first goal, which was the winner in the first regular-season meeting between Angel City and San Diego Wave FC.
Emslie made her debut coming on as a sub to start the second half. In the 81st minute, after taking pass from Cari Roccaro, Emslie deposited the ball into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead and eventual win by the same score for Angel City (5-4-2, 17 points) in front of a sellout crowd of 22,000 at Banc of California Stadium.
“I got in (town) Tuesday night, managed to do my medicals on Wednesday, trained Thursday and Friday and played tonight,” Emslie said. “To be honest, I’m feeling tired. It’s been a bit crazy the first few days, but worth it since we got the win.”
Emslie’s goal came after a major turning point in the game.
“It came down the left, so I tried to get up to support,” Emslie said. “It was a good cross (from Cari Roccaro), it came to me and I just got it into the corner.”
Moments earlier Tyler Lussi received her second yellow card leaving Angel City down to 10 players for the remaining 11 minutes of regulation and for the four minutes of stoppage time.
DiDi Haracic was forced to make a couple of timely saves to help preserve the win.
Last week, Angel City had a one-goal lead against the Portland Thorns, but allowed the tying goal in the 95th minute.
Defender Ali Riley believes this performance is a big step in the right direction.
“What we said from the beginning is that we want to make progress every game,” Riley said. “We want to grow every game. We’re looking at small steps, not looking too far ahead. Tonight, after that disappointment, pushing for the second goal, the resilience …being more disciplined, I think it was definitely a big step forward.”
Even though it was the first regular-season meeting, the San Diego-Angel City had all of the momentum swings that usually accompany rivalry games.
Wave FC scored the equalizer in the 59th minute on a goal by Kristen McNabb. The Angel City defense was unbalanced on the buildup leaving McNabb alone facing Haracic, eventually scoring.
For the second consecutive week, Angel City got on the board first. Last week, Savannah McCaskill converted a penalty kick inside the first 10 minutes. This time, Ali Riley opened the scoring, taking a pass from Jun Endo and firing toward the goal. The ball hit the San Diego goalkeeper’s leg and rolled into the net.
San Diego entered the week in first place in the NWSL on 21 points. It was shorthanded in this game with Alex Morgan and Taylor Kornieck with the U.S. national team and goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan with the Canadian national team for the CONCACAF Championships.
Angel City was without Vanessa Gilles (Canada) and Allyson Swaby (Jamaica). Also, Saturday was the first game this season that Savannah McCaskill (left leg) missed.
Wave FC nearly had the equalizer late in the first half. A free kick was taken by defender Abby Dahlkemper, setting things up from approximately 28 yards. Her strike hit the crossbar and the rebound was cleared away sending Angel City into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
The teams will meet again Sept. 17 in San Diego. They met twice during the preseason NWSL Challenge Cup. The first game ended in a 1-1 draw and San Diego won the second meeting 4-2.