The U.S. WNT secured its place in the 2016 U20 World Cup with another dominant win, topping Honduras 7-0 Friday night after rolling over Panama 6-1 and Haiti 6-0 to set up a CONCACAF U20 Final against Canada on Sunday.
With both countries already qualified for next fall’s U20 World Cup there won’t be much pressure on the finalists, no Sunday’s big match will be the third place game between Mexico and Honduras which will determine the third and final nation to represent CONCACAF in Papua, New Guinea next fall.
Coach Michelle French brought a young side with her to Honduras, entrusting World Cup Qualification to a roster that featured 12 High Schoolers and just eight collegiate athletes.
When the young squad opened the tournament by blowing a 2-0 lead before escaping with a 2-2 draw versus Mexico in the opener, French’s decision to allow several players to fulfil College Cup obligations looked like a gamble that might not pay off.
But French, a former U.S. WNT player, correctly calculated that with the Mexico game behind it her young group was strong enough to get the job done.
And it was a High School player that led the way, but then Mallory Pugh is no ordinary High Schooler. The 17 year old Coloradan has been dubbed the U.S. WNT’s next big thing and the versatile attacker looked plenty comfortable in that role in Honduras, racking up seven goals while scoring in every match leading to tomorrow’s final.
Pugh hasn’t been a one woman show, strike partner Jessie Scarpa has netted five times and Ashley Sanchez chipped in a brace against Honduras while the team kept a second consecutive clean sheet.
The U.S. has won the event, originally a U19 tournament, three times, most recently in 2012 in Japan. Germany are the defending champions.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 3 4 7
HON 0 0 0
USA – Ashley Sanchez (Jessie Scarpa) 33rd minute
USA – Mallory Pugh (Savannah DeMelo) 35
USA – Ashley Sanchez (Mallory Pugh) 38
USA – Mallory Pugh (Ella Stevens) 61
USA – Jessie Scarpa (Ashley Sanchez) 68
USA – Marley Canales (Shannon Horgan) 88
USA – Cherry Velásquez Bennett (own goal) 90+6
USA: 1-Rose Chandler; 5-Tierna Davidson, 14-Taylor Otto, 2-Natalie Jacobs, 16-Emily Fox (19-Shannon Horgan, 26); 6-Savannah DeMelo, 8-Ella Stevens, 3-Mikaela Harvey, 10-Mallory Pugh (capt.) (7-Marley Canales, 71); 13-Ashley Sanchez, 15-Jessie Scarpa (20-Zoe Redei, 72)
Subs not used: 4-Sabrina Flores, 9-Jordan Harr, 11-Kelcie Hedge, 12-Kiara Pickett, 17-Parker Roberts, 18-Brooke Heinsohn
Head coach: Michelle French
HON: 1-Madelinne Nieto Matamoros (15-Shirley Vásquez Laínez, 66); 2-Mirian Martínez Ordóñez, 3-Dania Reyes Hernández, 4-Ana Valladares, Carbajal (13-Jinan Abdalah Funes, 32), 17-Lisbeth Bonilla Murillo; 8-Cherry Velásquez Bennett, 7-Katherine Amador Mendoza, 18-Fátima Romero Baca, 10-Elexa Barh; 14-Emely Quiroz Zepeda (12-Katherine Mejía Flores, 49), 20-Gabriela Ponce
Subs not used: 5-Alisson Hernández Bardales, 11-Suzana Coello Argueta, 16-Ericka Estrada Batres, 6-Victoria Rivera, 9-Kendra Haylock Haylock, 19-Yadira Perdomo
Head coach: Miguel Escalante
Stats Summary: USA / HON
Shots: 22 / 1
Shots on Goal: 8 / 1
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 0
Fouls: 11 / 5
Offside: 0 / 1
USA-Ella Stevens (caution) 93rd minute