PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Nov. 17, 2016) – The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team earned a 3-1 win against a tough New Zealand side in the second Group C match for both teams at the 2016 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
The USA (1-0-1, 4 pts) now leads a tight Group C followed by New Zealand (1-1-0, 3 pts) and France (0-0-2, 2pts), which needed a last-second goal to draw 2-2 with Ghana (0-1-1, 1 pt) in the first Group C match of the day. The USA will face Ghana in its final Group C match on Nov. 21 at Sir John Guise Stadium (1 a.m. ET on FS1 and NBC Universo), while New Zealand takes on France at the same time at Bava Park.
A win or draw against Ghana will qualify the U.S. for the knockout stage while a win would ensure that the USA goes through to the quarterfinals in first place in Group C. The USA would also advance with a 1-0 loss to Ghana no matter the result of the France-New Zealand game.
U.S. head coach Michelle French made three changes from the starting lineup that faced France in the first game. Katie Cousins and Savannah DeMelo got the nod in central midfield, while Emily Fox began on the right flank and Ashley Sanchez moved into a more advanced role up top.
The moves paid off in just the third minute as Sanchez stole the ball from a New Zealand defender and finished easily. Five minutes later, captain Mallory Pugh to put the USA ahead 2-0 with a brilliant individual effort and finish.
The early goals quieted the pro-New Zealand crowd that was cheering for their team playing a World Cup in their own Oceania Confederation.
The early lead also put the U.S. in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game as the team amassed 13 shots (seven on goal) and 12 corner kicks to New Zealand’s five shots and two corners, both of which came late in the game. The USA controlled possession for the lion’s share of the game and created numerous chances to put the game away earlier. Sanchez hit the outside of the left post with a blast in the second half. The U.S. back line was once again stellar, allowing the lone goal of the game off a set play sequence.
The young Football Ferns drew to within 2-1 in the 76th minute after Isabella Coombes scored during penalty box scramble that came from her team’s first corner kick of the game, but the USA bagged a third soon after.
Second half substitutes Jessie Scarpa and Ally Watt reinstated the USA’s two-goal advantage in the 82nd minute when Scarpa played the speedy Watt through behind the defense and she finished for the final 3-1 margin. Watt had entered the match in the 79th minute.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Ashley Sanchez, 3rd minute: As the U.S. pressured New Zealand deep in their own end, Sanchez read a pass to Kiwis’ center back Elizabeth Anton and closed her down quickly, forcing a turnover at the top of the New Zealand penalty area. Sanchez raced in one-on-one and with only goalkeeper Nadia Olla to beat, easily snapped a quick shot into the lower right corner from eight yards out to become the first U.S. Women’s player to score in both a U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cup in the same year. USA 1, NZL 0 (SEE GOAL)
USA – Mallory Pugh, 8th minute: An interception at midfield from Pugh got her moving at pace down the left flank. With one defender to beat, Pugh cut inside past her marker, gaining the necessary separation to unleash a dipping blast from the left side of the penalty box sizzled past the diving New Zealand goalkeeper. USA 2, NZL 0 (SEE GOAL)
NZL – Isabella Coombes, 76th minute: After the USA twice failed to clear after a corner kick a headed clearance fell to Coombes at the top center of the penalty box. With a U.S. defender rushing at her, Coombes hit a first -time volley over a goal mouth crowed with players that dipped just underneath the crossbar and into the back of the net. USA 2, NZL 1 (SEE GOAL)
USA – Ally Watt (Jessie Scarpa), 82nd minute: Scarpa won control of the ball in a crowd of New Zealand players near the midfield center circle then slipped a perfect pass down the right flank for Watt. With the New Zealand defense caught and unable to recover against the speedy Watt, she raced into the right side of the penalty area before placing a firm shot into the lower left corner to ice the game. USA 3, NZL 1 (SEE GOAL) FINAL
- Neither team made a change at halftime in the hot conditions that hovered around 80 degrees, but the USA made all three of its subs in the second half as head coach Michelle French brought on attackers Jessie Scarpa in the 57th minute, Ally Watt in the 79th and defender Natalie Jacobs in the 90th.
- With the game’s opening goal, Ashley Sanchez became the first U.S. Youth Women’s National Team player to score in both a FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cup in the same year. She also scored against Paraguay and twice against Japan in group play of the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup held in Jordan this past October. Kristie Mewis is the only other U.S. player to score in both a U-17 and U-20 World Cup, but she did it two years apart. Her two goals in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup came in 2008 in New Zealand and her goal in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup came in Germany in 2010.
- Sanchez’s goal vs. New Zealand was her fifth at the U-20 level, while Mallory Pugh’s strike was her 18th for the U-20 WNT in 25 caps.
- Ally Watt’s goal was her sixth at the U-20 level.
- This was the first meeting between the USA and New Zealand in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
-U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team vs. New Zealand U-20 Women’s National Team
Date: Nov. 17, 2016
Competition: 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup – Group C
Venue: PNG Football Stadium; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Kickoff: 4 a.m. ET
Weather: 80 degrees; windy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 1 3
NZL 0 1 1
USA – Ashley Sanchez 3rd minute
USA – Mallory Pugh 8
NZL – Isabella Coombes 76
USA – Ally Watt (Jessie Scarpa) 82
USA: 1-Casey Murphy; 5-Madeline Elliston, 6-Taylor Otto, 3-Kaleigh Riehl, 14-Ellie Jean; 16-Emily Fox (11-Ally Watt, 79), 10-Emily Ogle, 20-Katie Cousins, 7-Savannah DeMelo (15-Jessie Scarpa, 57), 9-Mallory Pugh (capt.) (19-Natalie Jacobs, 90); 18-Ashley Sanchez
Subs Not Used: 2-Parker Roberts, 4-Sabrina Flores, 8-Courtney Petersen, 12-Rose Chandler, 13-Marley Canales, 17-Kelcie Hedge, 21-Brooke Heinsohn
Head Coach: Michelle French
NZL: 21-Nadia Olla; 2-Sarah Morton, 3-Sophie Stewart-Hobbs, 4-Elizabeth Anton, 6-Meikayla Moore (capt.); 7-Isabella Coombes, 10-Daisy Cleverley, 18-Grace Jale (16-Tayla Christensen, 69); 8-Jasmine Pereira, 9-Martine Puketapu (11-Emma Rolston, 80), 13-Paige Satchell (19-Jacqui Hand, 87)
Subs Not Used: 1-Tessa Nicol, 5-Samantha Murrell, 12-Malia Steinmetz, 14-Jade Parris, 15-Hannah Blake, 17-Eileish Hayes, 20-Emily Couchman
Head Coach: Leon Birnie
Stats Summary: USA / NZL
Shots: 13 / 5
Shots on Goal: 4 / 2
Saves: 1 / 3
Corner Kicks: 12 / 2
Fouls: 10 / 4
Offside: 2 / 0
Referee: Therese Neguel (CMR)
Assistant Referee 1: Tempa Ndah (BEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Mona Mahmoud (EGY)
4th Official: Marina Sbardella (ITA)
ussoccer.com Player of the Match: Mallory Pugh