Youth reporter in the kick of things covering women’s soccer match

ON THE JOB—KidScoop Media Correspondent Ethan Dumper gets a grand view of the field while covering the San Diego Wave and the Angel City FC game. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Mayans)

By Ethan Dumper,
age 12
KidScoop Media Correspondent

The game kicked off with the usual fanfare of fireworks and smoke as the players ran onto the pitch with the crowd yelling their names. The San Diego Wave hadn’t lost in 5 games and Los Angeles had won once in their last six games. That showed in the first five minutes with Los Angeles looking timid.

But in the ninth minute, Angel City’s Sidney Leroux, playing in just her second game with the club drove the ball upfield. The crowd grew excited and instead of taking the shot, Leroux distributed it out to Jun Endo, who found captain Ali Riley making a run.

Riley took it on the touchline and slammed it through the keeper’s legs into the back of the net!

Suddenly, Angel City had newfound energy passing better and stronger on both offense and defense. But all of that changed in the second half when an unmarked San Diego attacker put one past the keeper from almost the same spot as Riley. Just like that, the game was even.

No one was going to be satisfied with a tie, so both sides were playing their heart out. Soon one of Angel City’s defenders, Lussi Tyler, was shown a red card for a hard foul. Angel City was down to just ten players. “I wouldn’t say the red card energized us,but it definitely motivated us,” Claire Emslie described.

“An-gel, Ci-ty, An-gel, Ci- ty” At first, it was quiet, with just one person leading it, but it grew louder and louder with almost the whole stadium cheering. The fans were behind the team, and the team was playing fast and hard. They got their chance two minutes later when Roccaro put a cross across the middle. Leroux faked a shot and the ball fell to brand new Claire Emslie.

She took one look, and fired a hard shot into the bottom left corner, around the sliding defender and diving keeper. The stadium erupted in cheers, with all 22,000 fans on their feet jumping and yelling. It was an outpouring of emotion.

All of the Angel City players circled around Emslie, even the keeper ran from the other end of the field. But the work wasn’t over yet. With just minutes remaining in the game, a strong San Diego header looked like the equalizer, until the ACFC goalkeeper punched it over the crossbar.

The stadium let out a sigh of relief. San Diego kept trying but couldn’t find the back of the net. When the final whistle blew, the subs ran onto the field to celebrate and the players looked exhausted but satisfied bringing a victory home.

Angel City has spent the past week advertising this as the new SoCal rivalry. At halftime, it was announced a sold-out crowd to the entire stadium which prompted cheers. This was only the second sell-out ever for Angel City, the first coming in the very first game of the season.

So winning was crucial. As head coach Freya Coombe put it, “This is LA, it’s a very competitive sports market, and for us to have a voice, to have a platform, we need to be able to compete and we need to be able to win.”

In captain Ali Riley’s opinion, “I think this rivalry will set new standards and push the league forward.”

The crowd was electric throughout the night whether it was expressing disdain over a bad call or in celebration after a goal, you could feel the passion amongst the fans.

Another thing that has really increased is media attention. In the first game I attended, the press box was nearly empty. Almost the entire front row was empty, and a few reporters here and there mingled about.

Coming back for a mid-season game, the press box was packed, every seat filled. It is really empowering to see so many people come out to cover women’s sports.

What made this victory only more impressive was how new Claire Emslie and Sydney Leroux are. Leroux was signed just two weeks prior to the match, from Orlando. Emslie only had trained with the team the Thursday and Friday before the match.

In the post-game press conference, she said, “Feeling tired at 6 o’clock with jet lag… been a bit crazy in the first few days.”

Both players are here to fill in spots where Angel City has sagged all season. Multiple times in the press conference after the game, players and coaches discussed using their platform to “start speaking out about issues.”

Head Coach Freya Coombes stated. “Having that success and being a good representation of the women’s game is really important to us,” she added later. Ali Riley also touched on this in her portion of the press conference. “The world is a pretty crazy place right now. A lot of us are thinking of Brittany Griner, we want better gun control, we have a lot of things we are thinking about in the world… There’s so many things going on, and I’m so lucky to be here with my family, with my neighbors, doing what I love.”

Angel City won a crazy game in their new rivalry against San Diego, in a sold-out stadium. Press coverage was up, and Angel City was playing with brand new players.

As Coombes said, “It was Another Wild Night at the Banc.”