CHICAGO (March 1, 2017) – The U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team opened its 2017 schedule of international matches with a quality 2-0 victory against Japan in La Manga, Spain.
While in Spain, the U.S. U-23s will also face their counterparts from England (March 4 at 10 a.m. ET) and Norway (March 6 at Noon ET). Fans can watch both games here.
University of South Carolina forward Savannah McCaskill, who captained the team, scored in the 18th minute and former Harvard striker and current Boston Breaker Margaret Purce sealed the game with a goal in the 74th minute.
McCaskill created the first goal herself, assisted by some high-pressure defense from forward Ashley Hatch, as she stripped the last Japanese defender and raced in one-one-one before slotting a shot low and hard into the left corner past the sliding goalkeeper.
It was McCaskill’s first international goal at the U-23 level and her first U-23 cap. She trained with the senior U.S. Women’s National Team for a few days in January after being held over from the U-23 camp.
Casey Murphy, who also trained with the senior team in January, earned the shutout in goal while making 13 saves. She was playing in her second consecutive international game against Japan following the third-place match at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea at the end of last year. That game finished in a 1-0 loss for the USA. The match in La Manga was Murphy’s first U-23 cap.
Ashley Sanchez created the clincher just over 16 minutes from time as she won a ball in Japan’s defensive half, cut past a defender and raced up the middle. She then found Purce making a run into the right side of the penalty box and played her a perfectly-weighted pass. Purce had time to pick a corner and slid her shot low and hard into the left corner past the diving ‘keeper. It was her first goal at the U-23 level in her sixth cap.
It was the first U-23 WNT cap for Sanchez, who scored in both the U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cup tournaments last year, becoming the first American to accomplish the feat in the same cycle.
Stanford midfielder Tierna Davidson, Portland Thorns forward Celeste Boureille, Boston Breakers midfielder Morgan Andrews, NC Courage forward Ashley Hatch, Orlando Pride midfielder Danielle Weatherholt and Washington Spirit forward Arielle Ship also earned their first U-23 caps.
The 22-player U.S. team, which is being coached by Seattle Reign head coach Laura Harvey, features 17 professionals (16 from the NWSL and one currently playing in Iceland), four collegiate players and high school senior in Sanchez. Of the professional players on the roster, six will be entering their second NWSL seasons while 10 – including Purce – will be starting their rookie years when pre-season camps kick off in mid-March. Defender Adrienne Jordan plays for IBV in Iceland.
Nine players on the roster have represented the USA in a FIFA Women’s World Cup at the youth level while seven have seen training time with the full U.S. Women’s National Team. One of those – Hatch – has one cap, earned against Switzerland on Oct. 19, 2016, in Sandy, Utah.
While this roster features mostly professional players, the rosters for the events for the remainder of the spring and summer will feature primarily collegiate players as the NWSL season will be in full swing.
Following the trip to La Manga, the next event for the U.S. U-23 WNT will see the team take part in the Thorns Spring Invitational from March 26-April 1 in Portland, Oregon. The USA will take on three NWSL teams at Providence Park, playing the Houston Dash on Sunday, March 26 at 2:30 p.m. PT followed by Portland taking on Chicago at 5 p.m. PT. On Wednesday, March 29, Chicago takes on Houston at 5 p.m. PT and the USA will face the Thorns at 7:30 p.m. PT. The USA closes out the tournament against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday, April 1 at 5 p.m. and Portland ends the tournament against Houston at 7:30 p.m. PT.
-U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team vs. Japan
Date: March 2, 2017
Competition: Women’s U-23 La Manga Tournament 2017
Venue: La Manga, Spain
Weather: 68 degrees, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
JPN 0 0 0
USA – Savannah McCaskill 18th minute
USA – Margaret Purce (Ashley Sanchez) 74
USA: 1-Casey Murphy; 5-Christina Gibbons, 3-Erica Skroski, 25-Mandy Freeman (20-Katie Naughton, 74), 13-Kayla Mills (2-Samantha Witteman, 63), 7-Ashley Sanchez, 6-Tierna Davidson, 10-Celeste Boureille (8-Morgan Andrews, 63), 9-Ashley Hatch (11-Arielle Ship, 81), 4-Margaret Purce (18-Danielle Weatherholt, 81), 24-Savannah McCaskill (capt.) (17-Tyler Lussi, 63)
Subs not used: 12-Madalyn Schiffel, 14-Makenzy Doniak, 15-Adrienne Jordan, 16-Kristen McNabb, 19-Emily Ogle
Head Coach: Laura Harvey
JPN: 1-Mei Hayashizaki, 21-Saki Ishii (2-Anna Yamamori, 78), 15-Mana Mihashi, 3-Hisui Haza, 12-Risa Shimizu, 14-Narumi Miura (4-Manami Sunaga, 46), 6-Rin Sumida, 8-Hikaru Naomoto (capt.) (7-Hina Sugita, 46), 17-Yui Narumiya, 10-Ayaka Michigami, 19-Ayumi Oya (20-Akari Shiraki, 78)
Subs not used: 11-Miki Ito, 13-Arisa Matsubara, 16-Mizuki Nakamura, 18-Himeka Ishino, 22-Fumina Katsurama
Head Coach: Futoshi Ikeda
Stats Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 13 / 16
Shots on Goal: 9 / 13
Saves: 13 / 7
Corner Kicks: 3 / 3
Fouls: 9 / 9
Offside: 1 / 2
JPN – Hisui Haza (caution) 50th minute
Referee: Lovisa Johansson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Josefin Aronsson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Jilan Taher (SWE)