After failing to score against Czech Republic in the opening game of the SheBelieves Cup, the American women got back to winning ways as they destroyed the Football Ferns on Sunday afternoon in Carson, California.
Leaving many of the senior players not only off the field but also off the team roster, head coach Vlatko Andonovski opted to call up younger players in preparation for this summer’s Olympic qualifiers and later the Olympics in 2024 in Paris, where only three players can be over the age of 23.
The Americans had 58% of the possession and got off 11 shots in the game but three of their goals were a gift from New Zealand defender Meikayla Moore, who scored a hat trick of own goals.
Ashley Hatch was the first American to score early in the second half and Mallory Pugh rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.
Not being able to break down the Czech ladies, the Americans had to respond in a big way if they planned to claim another SheBelieves trophy. And respond they did.
With relentless attacks immediately after the kickoff, the 25-year-old defender Moore was up against it. The first goal came from a ball that was whipped into the box by Sophia Smith but alas, was not given credit for the assist as Moore put it into her own net. This one came in just the 5th minute and the second mistake by Moore just one minute later.
The unfortunate defender completed her hat trick of disaster in the 36th minute. The ball was squared into the six yard box by Margaret Purce, who had a very impressive game for the Yanks, and directed by Moore past Erin Nayler between the Kiwi posts.
In order to avoid any further humiliation, Moore was subbed off a few minutes later to end her nightmare in California.
The second half started just as the first had ended, with the Americans bearing down on their opponents’ goal. It took just six minutes after the restart for them to score a goal of their own.
Sofia Huerta sailed a beautiful ball into the box from the right flank and found Ashley Hatch between a pair of defenders. She stuck it into the back of the New Zealand net from eight yards out. This was the Washington Spirits player’s third goal in her last three USA appearances.
With time running out, Hatch won a header in the middle of the park and the ball fell to Pugh, who outran a pair of defenders down the field, composed herself and slotted it inside the near post to give the Americans an impressive victory; one which they will need as they go up against Iceland in the final game of the tournament in a few days.