BRADENTON, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2018) – The USA overcame a six-hour weather delay and a team it had lost to in group play to earn a rousing 3-0 semifinal victory against Portugal at the 2018 Concacaf Girls’ U-15 Championship. The victory earned the USA a berth in the title game where it will face Mexico on Monday, Aug. 13 at 11 a.m. ET in a match that will be shown on Conacaf.com. Mexico defeated Costa Rica, 2-0, in the other semifinal.
The victory was even more impressive considering the USA brought a younger team to this competition which mostly features players born in 2003. The USA roster includes 14 players born in 2004 and four in 2005.
Portugal defeated the USA 2-0 on Aug. 8 in Group A play as the Europeans finished two penalty kicks. The loss relegated the Americans to second place in the group, but with a plus-14 goal difference from 8-0 victories over Jamaica and El Salvador, the USA finished as the best second place team among the three groups in Division 1 to earn its semifinal berth.
The teams battled through 28 minutes in the semifinal which began at 9 a.m. ET before fast approaching lightning forced both teams to the locker rooms. After several delays, the teams warmed up twice, only to be sent back under cover each time, and the match did not resume until 3:25 p.m. ET.
Once it did, it was the younger Americans who took control in the 70-minute game that took more than six hours to complete. The USA got on the board in the 45th minute on a spectacular volley from defender Amelia Van Zanten. Midfielder Juliauna Hayward took the corner kick from the left side and drove her cross into the middle of the penalty area where Van Zanten crushed her first-time shot over the Portuguese goalkeeper Adriana Rocha and into the roof of the net. The goal sparked a wild celebration from the U.S. team, but they were not done.
In the 58th minute speedy forward Jaedyn Shaw raced down the left wing into the penalty area, then cut back to the inside before unleashing a shot that was saved but knocked into the air by Rocha. With forward Allison Montoya crashing the goal, the ball then hit retreating Portuguese defender Ines Oliveira in the leg and bounced into the open net.
Montoya provided the dagger in the final minute of regulation, racing past a defender down the right side after a pass from Heyward and then cut hard toward goal before rolling her shot inside the near post for the final score line.
Two defensive plays were also key moments in the match. Midway through the first half, before the weather delay, U.S. goalkeeper Teagan Wy made a great kick save to deny Portugal’s Maria Negrao on a golden opportunity from the top of the penalty box to keep the game scoreless.
In the 63rd minute, U.S. center back Maggie Taitano made a crucial goal line clearance after Maria Alagoa had rounded Wy in the left side of the penalty box and shot at the empty net. The scrambling Taitano lunged to clear the ball away on the slide just before it crossed the line as she tumbled into the goal.
The USA limited Portugal to just one shot in the game.
With 28 nations competing in two divisions, this is the largest Concacaf tournament ever for female participants and features a record number of Concacaf Member Associations as well as two invited teams from UEFA.
U.S. U-15 Girls’ National Team Match Report
Match: United States U-15 GNT vs Portugal U-15 GNT
Date: August 11, 2018
Competition: 2018 CONCACAF Girls’ Under-15 Championship – Semifinal
Venue: IMG Academy Soccer Stadium, Bradenton, Fla.
Kickoff: 9 a.m. ET (Match delayed and restarted at 3:25pm ET)
Weather: 84 degrees, thunderstorms
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
POR 0 0 0
USA – Amelia Van Zanten (Juliauna Hayward) 49th minute
USA – Own Goal (Ines Oliveira) 58
USA – Allison Montoya (Juliauna Hayward) 70
USA: 1-Teagan Wy, 2-Gisele Thompson (13-Maia Tabion, 64), 15-Amelia Van Zanten, 5-Maggie Taitano (Capt.) (4-Elise Evans, 72), 3-Evelyn Shores, 6-Yuna McCormack, 8-Sofia Cook (10-Olivia Moultrie, 64), 18-Juliauna Hayward, 17-Katherine Rader (7-Allison Montoya, 53), 11-Jaedyn Shaw, 9-Alyssa Thompson
Subs not used: 12-Nona Reason, 14-America Frias, 16-Maggie Cagle
Head Coach: April Kater
POR: 1-Adriana Rocha, 2-Claudia Mendinhas (6-Carolina Almeida, 51), 3-Ana Assucena, 4-Jessica Albino, 5-Ines Oliveira, 7-Maria Negrao, 8-Maria Miller, 9-Maria Alagoa, 10-Joana Caiado (Capt.), 13-Filipa Bandeira, 15-Maria Leonor (18-Salome Costa, 51)
Subs not used: 12-Ana Oliveira, 11-Mariana Ferreira, 14-Leonor Alves, 16-Conanca Oliveira, 17-Diana Faria
Head Coach: Jose Paisana
Stats Summary: USA / POR
Shots: 10 / 1
Shots on Goal: 4 / 1
Saves: 1 / 1
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 3 / 6
Offside: 2 / 0
POR – Ana Assucena (caution) 43rd minute
Referee: Maria Serrano (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Ojay Duhaney (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Lyes Arfa (CAN)
4th Official: Guy Prevot (GUF)