U-20 WNT crowned CONCACAF champs with 2-1 victory against Canada
With a spot already locked up for the 2012 Under-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup later this year, the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team finished off the tournament with a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind victory against Canada in the title game of the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship. It was the USA’s second consecutive regional tournament title at this age level.
The USA scored two goals in the final 12 minutes of the match, capped off by Chioma Ubogagu’s 89th-minute game-winning tally to catapult the U.S. past a gritty Canadian defense that had bent but not broken for the majority of the match.
“Credit Canada, they’re a tough team to break down and I thought they played very hard,” said U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team head coach Steve Swanson. “But full marks to our players. They really came back and showed a lot of determination and heart and hung in there. I was happy to see us win it before overtime. We had the momentum at that point when we scored the equalizer and it was just nice to see it carry through. It was a good tournament for us. We learned a lot and were tested, and are looking forward to the next phase which is getting ready for the World Cup.”
The U.S. team will begin its preparations for the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup to be held in Japan from Aug. 19 to Sept. 8.
Earlier on Sunday, Mexico claimed the final CONCACAF berth to Japan by defeating host Panama 5-0 in the third-place game. It marks the fourth time that the USA, Canada and Mexico will represent the CONCACAF in the same U-20 Women’s World Cup.
After allowing a goal against the run of play in just the fifth minute, the U.S. dominated the match in almost every way, maintaining the majority of possession while piling up a 28-7 shot margin for the match and a 14-2 edge in corner kicks. While the USA sent wave after wave of attacks at the Canadian net, for the most part pinning the Maple Leafs inside their own half for long stretches, the combination of organized defending from the Canadians and untidy finishing from the Americans kept the U.S. behind until the 79th minute.
Substitute Kealia Ohai, who came into the match in the 76th minute, was the catalyst for both goals. The USA finally broke through in the 79th minute as Ohai sprinted down the right side and crossed the ball into the center of the penalty area. Maya Hayes won the ball in the midst of several Canadian defenders, took a short touch away from the goal and then shot through three players from eight yards out. Canadian goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo was perhaps screened but could do nothing as her dive to her right was too late to stop the shot from skidding just inside the left post.
The goal touched off a wild celebration among the U.S. players, who had been pushing hard for a goal the entire match. It was Hayes’ team-leading fifth goal of the tournament.
With Canada clearly rattled, the USA went hard for the game-winner. Once again it was the speed of Ohai that created room to cross, this time from the left. The cross hit off a Canadian defender and Ubogagu did well to battle for the loose ball, sliding to scoop the ball into the net with her left foot while falling to the ground. Her shot stuck just the inside of the right post for a 2-1 lead and ultimately the championship.
The U.S. found itself in unfamiliar territory in the early going as Canada’s Jenna Richardson pounced on an errant pass from U.S. defender Crystal Dunn and did well to sprint into the right side of the penalty box before slotting her shot into the lower left side of the goal past diving U.S. goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin for the 1-0 lead.
It marked the first goal allowed by the U.S. during the tournament after shutting out its first four opponents by a 22-0 margin. The USA had also allowed only two shots on goal during those first four matches.
The USA peppered Canada’s goal the rest of the way, but D’Angelo was solid, making nine saves as her back line came through with some key clearances from the multitude of attacks and set pieces.
Dunn, who had an excellent match at right back, worked to redeem herself on the offensive end in the 27th minute, cranking a well-struck, left-footed attempt from just above the top of the penalty area, but her strike flew just inches over the crossbar.
There was a brief moment of anxiety for the U.S. defense in the 33rd minute when Canada’s Christabel Oduro got free behind the defense and had the chance to lift her long-distance shot over Heaberlin. Fortunately for the Americans, she shot well wide left of the goal frame.
The USA had a couple of strong buildups to start the second half. In the 48th minute, Morgan Brian ran onto a Dunn cross from the right side but her bullet header went directly to D’Angelo. In the 50th minute, Hayes dropped the ball back to Brian, who shot from above the box but missed the frame.
The quality of the USA’s attack improved as the second half progressed. In the 59th minute, Lindsey Horan’s right-footed shot was driven toward the near left post, but D’Angelo dove to her right to make the save. Then a minute later, Ubogagu took a long-range shot that once again went directly to D’Angelo.
Several other key buildups for the U.S. included Horan’s header that just went over the bar in the 72nd minute and an attempt from Brian, who whiffed on a right-footed attempt in the 75th minute, but was able to create a shot with her left that just missed the upper left corner.
Heaberlin made three saves in net for the U.S., all coming in the second half.
– U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: United States U-20 Women’s National Team vs. Canada
Date: March 11, 2012
Competition: 2012 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship; Final
Venue: Estadio Rommel Fernandez; Panama City, Panama
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (8 p.m. local)
Weather: 79 degrees, mostly sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
CAN 1 0 1
CAN – Jenna Richardson 5th minute
USA – Maya Hayes (Kealia Ohai) 79
USA – Chioma Ubogagu (Kealia Ohai) 89
USA: 1-Bryane Heaberlin; 4-Crystal Dunn, 17-Olivia Brannon, 5-Kassey Kallman, 2-Mollie Pathman (capt.) (7-Kealia Ohai, 76), 12-Vanessa DiBernardo (10-Mandy Laddish, 68), 6-Morgan Brian, 15-Samantha Mewis; 20-Maya Hayes, 14-Katie Stengel (9-Chioma Ubogagu, 46), 11-Lindsey Horan
Subs not used: 8-Julie Johnston, 16-Sarah Killion, 18-Abby Smith, 19-Stephanie Amack
Head Coach: Steve Swanson
CAN: 1-Sabrina D’Angelo; 2-Kylie Davis, 3-Nicole Hill (15-Vanessa Legault-Cordisco, 46); 4-Rachel Melhado, 5-Shelina Zadorsky (capt.), 6-Jaclyn Sawicki (21-Christine Exeter, 81), 7-Constance De Chantal, 8-Danica Wu, 10-Christabel Oduro, 11-Jenna Richardson, 17-Nkem Ezurike (9-Catherine Charron-Delage, 71)
Subs not used: 12-Nicole Setterlund, 18-Dayle Colpitts, 19-Olivia Colosimo, 20-Lauren Granberg
Head Coach: Andrew Olivieri
Stats Summary: USA / CAN
Shots: 28 / 7
Shots on Goal: 11 / 4
Saves: 3 / 9
Corner Kicks: 14 / 2
Fouls: 2 / 6
Offside: 0 / 1
Referee: Quetzali Alvarado (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Lixy Enriquez (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Shirley Perello (HON)
Fourth Official: Annia Navarrete (CUB)
ussoccer.com Woman of the Match: Kealia Ohai