Alex Morgan celebrates her first goal, a penalty kick. (Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports)
Alex Morgan was at the top of her game and then some on Saturday night.
She became only the third player in in National Women’s Soccer League history to score four goals in a game as the San Diego Wave routed NJ/NY Gotham FC, 4-0, at Torero Stadium in San Diego.
Gotham fell to 1-1-0 while San Diego improved to 2-0-0.
“There’s no doubt about it – I am home,” Morgan said. “I think everyone can feel it and can see it. The ball just dropped my way tonight after the two penalties. All around it was such a great team performance. We were everyone around this pitch. I don’t get these goals without the amazing crosses that forced the handball or the header by [Amirah], or the other defensive work, so it was a really great team effort by everyone tonight.”
Gotham FC head coach Scott Parkinson gave San Diego its due.
“Have to give a lot of credit to San Diego,” he said. “They were brilliant with what they do. On the first goal, we didn’t quite do enough to prevent it. And the it was a big game [for San Diego] and a big crowd for their home opener and it gave them momentum.”
Gotham FC started strong when Margaret Purce created two opportunities in the opening 10 minutes. She found space inside just 36 seconds into the match on a shot that went high. In the eighth minute off a goal kick, Purce was left alone to run down the left side. San Diego made up ground inside the 18 to deflect her try before it got to goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.
The Wave built momentum as the half progressed. Gotham FC stayed organized and defended well in the box, highlighted by a pair of goal line clearances from Estelle Johnson in the 21st minute and Caprice Dydasco in the 37th minute.
The Wave continued to knock on the door until a corner kick right at the 45-minute mark. The set piece pinballed around the box and went off the woodwork. The ball went off a Gotham FC player’s hand to lead to the penalty that Morgan converted.
The match was bottled up for the first 15 minutes of the second half. Cam Tucker got in for the club’s first shot attempt since Purce’s try in the eighth minute.
Morgan put away another PK in the 66th minute.
She made it a hat-trick in the 70th minute with a strong play to knock the ball away from a Gotham FC player and put one home.
Morgan capped the scoring, connecting after a turnover a minute into stoppage time.
Sheridan, a former Gotham goalkeeper, recorded her second successive shutout.
“It’s really important to us that we represent our home really well and that we keep clean sheets at home,” she said. “When people 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.”