Veronica Latsko scored in the 47th minute Sunday night at Snapdragon Stadium on what was intended to be a cross, but went inside the left goalpost into the goal’s netting.
“That was not supposed to be a shot,” said Latsko, who also scored in the Reign’s 1-0 victory over Angel City FC, 1-0, in a quarterfinal on Oct.20.
Reign goalkeeper Claudia Dickey made three of her four saves after the goal, stopping shots by Makenzy Doniak in the 51st minute, Alex Morgan in the 84th minute and Kyra Taylor Carusa two minutes into stoppage time to preserve the shutout.
Dickey’s other save came about one minute before the goal on a shot by Morgan from outside the penalty area.
The Wave led 13-9 in shots and 5-4 in corner kicks but trailed 5-4 in shots on goal in front of a sold-out crowd announced at 32,262, the most for a NWSL playoff game.
Wave FC goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan made three of her four saves in the first 28 minutes, stopping shots by Jordyn Huitema in the seventh and 16th minutes, Megan Rapinoe in the 28th minute and Rose Lavelle in the 70th.
The Wave is winless against OL Reign in all competitions in its two seasons, 0-7-2, including 0-2-0 marks in both regular-season and Challenge Cup games this season.
The victory advances the Seattle-based Reign into the NWSL Championship for the third time in the 10 years it has been played and first since 2015. It will face NJ/NY Gotham FC, a 1-0 winner over Portland Thorns FC in extra time in the other semifinal earlier Sunday, in the championship at Snapdragon Stadium Saturday.
The site was announced July 19.
The victory extended the career of Rapinoe, the longtime U.S. national team star who played all 90 minutes Sunday. The 38-year-old Rapinoe announced July 8 that she would retire following the conclusion of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season.
The Wave had a league-best 11-7-4 regular-season record, including a 5-1-1 mark in its last seven games, its best record in a seven-game span in its two-season history. The first-place regular-season record gave the Wave a quarterfinal bye.
OL Reign was fourth with a 9-8-5 record.
The Wave was playing for the first time since Oct. 15 when it defeated Racing Louisville FC, 2-0. There were no playoff games played between Oct.23-31 because of FIFA’s international break to allow players to play for their