San Diego Wave FC 2022 Player Postmortem: Makenzy Doniak

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Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

Forward forced her way into reckoning.

Makenzy Doniak joined San Diego Wave FC for their debut campaign in 2022 as an experienced depth forward in the NWSL. She finished the year having confirmed those credentials.

Playing for Wave FC was a quasi-homecoming of sorts for Doniak, who grew up in the Inland Empire. Turning pro in 2016 with the Western New York Flash and winning the NWSL title with them before their move to North Carolina, Doniak had experience at the Courage, Utah Royals and Chicago Red Stars as well, in addition to loans in Australia and Denmark.

Picking up an injury in preseason, Doniak missed the NWSL Challenge Cup entirely with San Diego, and as head coach Casey Stoney admitted this offseason, there came a point in the year where it looked like the forward wasn’t going to force her way into the rotation, with Alex Morgan flying as the starter and a healthy crop of depth forwards already on the roster.

But credit to Doniak, who got healthy, kept working, and took advantage of the playing time she saw. Before long, she became a key player as part of the squad’s core group. In the process, she produced effectively in limited minutes.

Here are Doniak’s stats with San Diego in 2022:

All but one of Doniak’s goals+assists on the season came from off the bench, which is a good trait to have as a player who’s not first choice.

Here is Doniak’s first goal of the season, in the road win at Gotham FC. She drives the play, and while she may have been a bit fortunate on the finish, it was good reward for her attacking intent.

This is her second goal of the season, starting in the home win over the Washington Spirit.

She didn’t get credited with the assist here, but she was also NWSL Player of the Week, in scoring and setting up a goal off the bench in a draw against the Orlando Pride.

It’s clear, over time, that Doniak earned Stoney’s trust and showed she could take advantage of playing scant minutes but still chipping in with production.

And honestly, her advanced stats in her scouting report graph on FBref.com are very impressive.

FBref.com

Ok, this shows she’s not much of a facilitator, and her defensive numbers (aside from aerial duels) are not anything to write home about, but in the attacking categories, she’s lights out. This shows her efficiency when she’s on the field and ability to impact games in short order.

As a result, it’s little surprise Doniak will be returning to Wave FC for 2023. I think it’s worth emphasizing that this mostly-bench role is probably ideal for Doniak, she seems to fit in San Diego’s system well but I don’t think if she started every game, say, she would suddenly score 15 goals. But every team needs production off the bench, they need an experienced player with a knack for goal to rotate in, and Doniak does that very well. Given the World Cup year in 2023 will produce some likely holes in the lineup means players like Doniak could get spot starts along the way, too, and like this year when she helped carry the team while the internationals were away, that could be in the cards next year as well.

So it was a strong year from Doniak, who quietly became a key player for San Diego, even as she was not a starter, and that’s pretty impressive indeed.

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