The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team battled a strong and fast Nigeria team before prevailing 2-0 in the first semifinal of the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup on Tuesday at Tokyo National Stadium to earn a place in the championship game.
Morgan Brian and Kealia Ohai each tallied their first goals of the tournament as the U.S. advances to its third U-20 title match. The USA has won the tournament twice, defeating Canada to win the 2002 crown when it was a U-19 event, and most recently defeating Korea DPR 2-1 in the 2008 U-20 Women’s World Cup.
The USA will face the winner of Tuesday’s later semifinal match between defending champion Germany and host Japan in the title match on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Tokyo National Stadium. Live coverage begins at 6:20 a.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.
Nigeria will settle for the third-place game, which takes place at 2:30 a.m. ET on Aug. 31 (ESPNU, ESPN3) at National Stadium.
The U.S. caught an early break in the eighth minute when Nigeria, the runner-up during the 2010 U-20 Women’s World Cup, intercepted the ball in the midfield and Francisca Ordega’s shot one-on-one against U.S. goalkeeper Bryane Haeberlin was pushed a couple feet wide right of the goal.
The match featured end-to-end play from the onset, with both teams posting several chances in the opening 20 minutes. In the 22nd minute, the USA got on the score sheet first as Brian headed the ball into the left side of the net for a 1-0 lead. U.S. left back Mollie Pathman drove the cross in from the left sideline and found Brian unmarked toward the far right side. She capitalized on the chance with a driven header past Nigeria goalkeeper Ibubeleye Whyte.
The USA nearly found a two-goal cushion just before halftime as Kelly Cobb’s header set up by Ohai on the left side went barely over the crossbar and hit the top netting.
Nigeria, which held the possession advantage over the USA during the match, stepped up its pressure in the second half and thought it had the equalizer in the 52nd minute when Desire Oparanozie slotted her shot into the net past Haeberlin. Oparanozie was ruled offside as she barely mistimed her run on Ordega’s through ball.
The USA put the match away in the 70th minute as second-half subs Chioma Ubogagu and then Samantha Mewis worked the ball to Ohai, whose shot slightly clipped Nigeria’s goalkeeper Whyte and was placed into the left side of the net for a 2-0 cushion.
Heaberlin made three saves for her second clean sheet of the tournament behind a defensive line that defended with energy against a high-paced Nigeria side.
- U.S. U-20 WNT head coach Steve Swanson went with the same starting lineup as the 2-1 quarterfinal victory against Korea DPR on Aug. 31.
- Morgan Brian’s goal was only the USA’s second tally to take place in the first half of the 2012 tournament. Maya Hayes had a first-half goal during a 1-1 draw against China PR on Aug. 23. The USA’s other first-half score was the result of a Ghana own goal during the team’s opening 4-0 victory on Aug. 20.
- Hayes made her team-leading 42nd career U-20 appearance on Tuesday.
- Five USA players have scored in this year’s U-20 World Cup: Hayes (4), Vanessa DiBernardo (1), Chioma Ubogagu (1), Brian (1) and Kealia Ohai (1).
- U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team Match Report -
Match: United States U-20 Women’s National Team vs. Nigeria
Date: Sept. 4, 2012
Competition: 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup; Semifinal
Venue: Tokyo National Stadium; Tokyo, Japan
Kickoff: 3 a.m. ET (4 p.m. local)
Weather: 86 degrees, hot and humid
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
NGA 0 0 0
USA – Morgan Brian (Mollie Pathman) 22nd minute
USA – Kealia Ohai (Samantha Mewis) 70
USA: 1-Bryane Heaberlin; 4-Crystal Dunn, 8-Julie Johnston (capt.), 3-Cari Roccaro, 2-Mollie Pathman; 16-Sarah Killion, 10-Vanessa DiBernardo, 6-Morgan Brian (14-Mandy Laddish, 83); 7-Kealia Ohai, 20-Kelly Cobb (9-Chioma Ubogagu, 46), 5-Maya Hayes (13-Samantha Mewis, 66)
Subs not used: 11-Becca Wann, 12-Katie Stengel, 15-Kassey Kallman, 17-Taylor Schram, 18-Abby Smith, 19-Stephanie Amack, 21-Jami Kranich
Head Coach: Steve Swanson
NGA: 1-Ibubeleye Whyte; 3-Gloria Ofoegbu (capt.), 4-Ugo Njoku, 13-Fasilat Adeyemo, 15-Josephine Chukwunonye; 5-Cecilia Nku (18-Charity Adule, 68), 10-Ngozi Okobi, 14-Asisat Oshoala (6-Jennifer Osawaru, 79); 7-Esther Sunday, 9-Desire Oparanozie (8-Ebere Orji, 72), 17-Francisca Ordega
Subs not used: 2-Blessing Edoho, 6-Jennifer Osawaru, 11-Winifred Eyebhoria, 12-Chioma Nwankwo, 16-Osarenoma Igbinovia, 19-Abosede Olukayode, 20-Chidinma Okoro, 21-Damilola Akano
Head Coach: Okon Edwin
Stats Summary: USA / NGA
Shots: 10 / 10
Shots on Goal: 3 / 3
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 7 / 6
Fouls: 6 / 4
Offside: 2 / 2
Referee: Esther Staubil (SUI)
Assistant Referee 1: Ella De Vries (BEL)
Assistant Referee 2: Angela Kyriakou (CYP)
Fourth Official: Qin Liang (CHN)
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