Five Things To Know: New Zealand

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The U.S. Women’s National Team returns to the field on Sunday, Feb. 20, taking on New Zealand at 12 p.m. PT (ABC and PrendeTV) in its second match at the 2022 SheBelieves Cup, presented by Visa. With the USA coming off a hard-fought 0-0 draw vs. the Czech Republic on Feb. 17 and New Zealand coming off a 1-0 loss to Iceland, both squads will be looking to rebound and claim valuable points in the tournament standings, as well as their first wins of 2022. 
 
Get ready for Sunday’s matchup with Five Things to Know about New Zealand. 
 

LAST TIME OUT 

Playing its first ever match at the SheBelieves Cup, New Zealand got off to a less-than-desirable start in the tournament opener against Iceland. The Football Ferns fell behind in the first minute after Iceland’s Dagný Brynjarsdóttir scored just 48 seconds into the match following a flurry of activity off a corner kick. Iceland continued to have the better of play and chances in the first half, though the Football Ferns settled into the match after the halftime break.  
 
A significant bright spot during the match came in the 74th minute when 28-year-old defender Rebeka Stott entered the match, making her first appearance for New Zealand after being diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma less than a year ago.  
 
New Zealand was outshot 12-7 on the afternoon but held a 7-6 advantage in corner kicks.  
 

INSIDE THE ROSTER 

The Football Ferns’ 23-player roster includes 16 players who represented New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics last summer and is an experienced group overall. Eight players on this New Zealand roster have 75 caps or more, including five players with over 100 caps in defender Ria Percival (158 caps), defender Abby Erceg (145), defender Ali Riley (141), midfielder Betsy Hassett (127) and forward Hannah Wilkinson (101).   
 
Wilkinson is the top scorer on the Football Ferns’ roster with 26 career international goals while Percival (15 goals) and Hassett (13) also have double-digit scores for their country.  
 
On the other end of the spectrum, 10 players on this New Zealand roster have fewer than 10 caps, including uncapped goalkeeper Lily Alfred. 

NEW ZEALAND WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION  

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Erin Nayler (Umea IK, SWE), 21-Victoria Esson (SC Sand, GER), 23- Lily Alfed (Wellington Phoenix FC)    

DEFENDERS (8): 3-Claudia Bunge (Melbourne Victory FC, AUS) 4-CJ Bott (Unattached), 5-Meikayla Moore (Liverpool FC, ENG), 6-Rebekah Stott (Melbourne Victory FC, AUS), 7-Ali Riley (Angel City FC, USA), 8-Abby Erceg (North Carolina Courage, USA), Elizabeth Anton (Perth Glory FC, AUS), 22-Ashleigh Ward (Actonians LFC, ENG) 

MIDFIELDERS (5): 2-Ria Perecival (Tottenham Hotspur FC, ENG), 12-Betsy Hassett (Stjarnan, ISL), 14-Katie Bowen (North Carolina Courage, USA), 15-Daisy Cleverley (Unattached), 20-Malia Steinmetz (West Sydney Wanderers FC, AUS)  

FORWARDS (7): 9-Gabi Rennie (Arizona State University, USA), 10-Jacqui Hand (Unattached), 11-Olivia Chance (Celtic FC, SCO), 13-Paige Satchell (Sydney FC, AUS), 16-Emma Rolston (Unattached), 17-Hannah Wilkinson (Melbourne Victory FC, AUS), 18-Ava Collins (St John’s University, USA)  


SERIES HISTORY: USA vs. NEW ZEALAND 

The USA has played New Zealand 18 times overall and leads the all-time series, 16-1-1. The most recent matchup between the teams came in the group stage at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the USA picked up a 6-1 victory as Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Christen Press and Alex Morgan all scored while the USA forced the Football Ferns into two own goals. Hassett scored the lone goal for New Zealand in the 72nd minute.  
 
Prior to the matchup in Japan, the teams’ most recent meeting in the United States came on May 16, 2019, with the USA beating New Zealand 5-0 in front of 35,761 fans in St. Louis during the Send-Off Series for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Carli Lloyd netted a brace for the USA with goals in the 61st and 83rd minutes, while Tobin Heath, Lavelle and Samantha Mewis also found the back of the net.  


WELCOMING THE WORLD DOWN UNDER 

New Zealand has already secured a spot in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup as co-host nation along with Australia It will be the first time a Women’s World Cup will be hosted across multiple countries and will also see the overall field expanded from 24 to 32 teams.  

New Zealand has qualified for every world championship beginning with the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and will be making its sixth overall appearance in the FIFA Women’s World, first qualifying in 1991 and then playing in every subsequent tournament since 2007.  


AMERICAN CONNECTIONS 

There will be a high degree of familiarity between the sides for Saturday’s matchup, both on the field and on the sidelines.  
 
New Zealand is led by head coach Jitka Klimkova, who replaced former Football Ferns – and one-time USWNT -- head coach Tom Sermanni after the Olympics. Klimkova was the head coach for the U.S. U-20 WYNT during the 2020 World Cup cycle and was also head coach U.S. U-19s as well as head scout for the U.S. team at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea. Former USWNT midfielder and 1991 Women’s World Cup champion Tracey Bates Leone is an assistant on Klimkova’s staff. Leone also coached the USA to victory at the 2002 Under-19 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.  

Three players on the Football Ferns roster currently compete in the NWSL in Erceg (North Carolina Courage), Katie Bowen (North Carolina Courage) and Ali Riley (Angel City FC).  

Erceg is a three-time NWSL Champion, capturing the 2016 title with the Western New York Flash and back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019 with the North Carolina Courage. She played alongside the USA’s Lynn Williams for all three titles. Riley, who was a collegiate teammate of Kelley O’Hara at Stanford University. Bowen is in her fifth full season in NWSL and previously played with O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn while members of Utah Royals FC. 

Forward Ava Collins and forward Gabi Rennie both play collegiately in the United States, representing St. John’s University and Arizona State, respectively. Several other players on New Zealand’s roster have experience in the American collegiate system, including Daisy Cleverley, who was named the 2021 BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year at Georgetown University. Hassett also played collegiately at the University of California, Berkeley while Wilkinson had a standout career at the University of Tennessee.  
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