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By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Angel City Dominant in Memorial Day Loss

Gotham FC Survives 1-0 Shutout Over ACFC


Angel City FC

ACFC forward Jun Endo unleashes hard shot against NJNY Gotham FC

To play soccer is to suffer. Angel City FC had a packed crowd of 18,784 at Banc of California Stadium on the edge of their seats with a sustained offensive blitz late in the second half but came up empty in a 1-0 loss to the Gotham FC of New Jersey New York on Memorial Day Sunday. ACFC deserved a better result as they dominated NJYGFC in every conceivable facet except for the all-important scoreboard.

"We showed real dominance in the second half. Initially, we were just rushing in the final third and really weren't converting our chances," head coach Freya Coombe. It was Angel City's second 1-0 loss of the season, both coming at home. Still, the first-year franchise remained in a tie for second place in the NWLS standings with a 3-2-0 record and nine total points.

"I think we showed a little bit more patience towards the end of the second half and that translated into entries into the box and touches in the box. The number of corners rained down on them so that was a real positive performance, but just couldn't find the net. On another day, you get two or three goals from that."

ACFC forward Jun Endo, instrumental in the second half rally with multiple well-placed corner kicks and two shots on goal: "The first half was not the best start. The second half, I wanted to take that energy and start from scratch. But that's a team effort moving forward. We want to go in with that confidence in the first half."

The game's only score came in the 57th minute on an angled shot inside the box by Gotham forward Ifeoma Onumonu. ACFC forward Vanessa Gilles initially intercepted the pass off of Onumonu but NJY forward Midge Purce immediately deflected the ball towards Onumonu to assist on the goal. Gotham only had two shots on goal the entire match, yet one was enough to accentuate the pain for Angel City and its faithful.

"It's something that she (Onumonu) does really well and we've highlighted it, but credit to her we just didn't clear the ball well enough," said Coombe. "Midge nicked it and Iffy buried it. It was a well-taken goal and just being able to do it quickly.

After a relatively slow start, Angel City clearly controlled most of the action and possession, especially in the second half. Statistically, ACFC led 24-7 in total shots, 7-2 in shots on goal, 15-1 in corner kicks, 40-16 in crosses, passing accuracy 75-67%, and time of possession 55-45%. They increased their attack with urgency after Gotham's goal. Megan Reid's header was blocked in the 59th minute, Gilles was blocked in the 60th minute.

The assault continued as Forward Christen Press long shot towards the left corner of the goal was save two minutes later. Midfielder Savannah McCaskill missed a shot to the right of the net in the 73rd minute. The most dangerous chance was Press' hard shot from outside the box towards the inside of the far post in the 80th minute. But what seemed like a sure goal was denied by a one-handed leaping save from Gotham goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

Two minutes later Gilles' header delivered from point-blank range was blocked, followed by Megan Reid's left-footed attempt and Gilles right-footed shot from close range. Three minutes later Endo's attempt from the right side of the box was blocked, as was Clarisse Le Bihan's attempt off a header pass from Tyler Lussi. In the 88th minute Cari Roccaro's header was saved by Harris. McCaskill had her shot blocked just before stoppage time was added. The waning chants and anxiety continued until the final whistle sounded four minutes later.

"Momentum... the second half was very high. We were not able to finish those chances. That's going to be something that we are going to continue to work on," said Endo. "There are obviously some moments where I always have to improve. I want to use this as a way to move forward with the team."

Endo has also impressed by the remarkable support from the fans during this season: "I've never played in a situation or an environment like this where the fans are cheering for me very loudly. I'm very grateful and thankful. At the same time, I'm not used to it yet. I hope to use this as encouragement and motivation to keep playing."

Angel City FC

Angel City and Gotham FC players unite on the pitch before match to denounce gun violence

Fortunately for Angel City, the club has little time to reflect on the disappointing loss as they travel to take on the Portland Thorns FC this Friday night at Providence Park. ACFC played the Portland twice during the Challenge Cup tournament in March and April that preceded the NWSL regular season. The Thorns won the first match in Portland, a 3-2 shutout on March 30. Angel City won their very first contest as a franchise in the rematch, a 1-0 clean sheet victory at Titan Stadium, Cal State Fullerton on April 24.

"I thought we sorted it out, solved the problems and played closer together, which we needed to do in the second half," reflected Coombe. "It's just one of those days. Other days you win the game, so I don't think we should be too downbeat on it. But I think we need to look at how we can get a faster start going in games because there's a couple of games now where it's taken us too long to get ready."


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