U.S. Women’s Soccer Qualifies in Thrilling Fashion

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The U.S. Women’s Soccer team has officially qualified for its eighth straight World Cup after going undefeated in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament. The women defeated Canada 2-0 on Wednesday, October 17 in the final game of the tournament with goals coming from Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle. The duo have been no strangers to the back of the net, after tallying a total of ten goals combined in the tournament, accounting for ten out of the teams twenty-six total goals. To pair with the high-powered offense, the U.S. defense, led by center-back Julie Ertz, recorded a clean sheet for the entire tournament. As per ESPN, veteran Megan Rapinoe said, “This team is pound for pound more talented than any team that I’ve been on with, with the national team — across the board, all the way through the positions.”

The U.S. attack featured nine different goal-scorers. Tobin Heath notched four goals, while Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Rose Lavelle each knocked in three. Along with those five, Julie Ertz (2), Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, Christen Press, and Samantha Mewis all contributed to the team’s 26 total goals.

Morgan is definitely a role model to aspiring soccer players.”

— Heather Horowitz, sophomore

The attacker with the strongest performance was Alex Morgan, who netted seven goals and has scored 24 goals in her last 24 international appearances. Her final goal came in the tournament’s finale. Morgan scored in the 89th minute, clinching their World Cup qualification. This goal put her at 97 international goals and seventh on the all-time U.S. Women’s National Team scoring list. Sophomore varsity soccer player Heather Horowitz said, “Morgan is definitely a role model to aspiring soccer players.”

Alongside Morgan in the top-ten of the scoring list is veteran midfielder Carli Lloyd, who has scored 105 goals in her career. Although Morgan and Lloyd are a huge part of the U.S. offense, newcomer Lavelle showed that she is ready to play. Notching three goals in the tournament, she tied for fourth in total goals. The former Wisconsin Badger had a great performance in only her second tournament with the national team.

To pair with Lavelle, young, promising midfielder Horan had a phenomenal showing. She tallied five assists and one goal in the tournament, only behind Alex Morgan (7) in points. Horan was named the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League MVP at the conclusion of the season. Further, former U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year, Tobin Heath knocked in four goals and contributed two assists. She tied with Horan in points.

The mix of veteran leaders with the new infusion of youth has been the driving force of the successful team. From 36-year-old Carli Lloyd, all the way down to 20-year-old Mallory Pugh, everyone on the U.S. Women’s National Team is a vital asset.

In the back-third of the field, seven different women made appearances. Center-back Abby Dahlkemper led the U.S. defense in minutes, recording 437 minutes in five games.  The 25-year-old former UCLA Bruin was even a contributor on offense, tallying two assists. Fellow center-back Becky Sauerbrunn had one assist. Including Sauerbrunn’s assist, the tandem contributed to three of the 26 goals scored. Further, Kelly O’Hara and Crystal Dunn started the majority of the games at outside-back. Along with substitutes Casey Short, Emily Sonnett, and Hailie Mace, the foursome dominated for the entire tournament.  The defensive unit only allowed five shots on goal. Two more integral parts of the U.S. defense are goalkeepers Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris. The duo was a brick wall in net throughout the entire tournament. Naeher, who started in four out of the five games in the tournament, has only allowed seven goals in her 14 appearances for the team in 2018. Horowitz contributed, “Naeher has been phenomenal in place of retired goalie Hope Solo.” With a stacked-up defense, featuring several key players, the U.S. Women’s National Team is bound for success.

With the Women’s World Cup on the horizon, the U.S. is on a fantastic run. As per U.S. Soccer’s website, head coach Jill Ellis stated, “It’s been a year of working hard to take strides to improve.” These strides have led to a high-powered offense and a strong, confident defense. With playmakers like Morgan, Heath, Horan, Lloyd, and many others, the U.S. should see goal-scoring success. A cohesive defensive unit, commanded by veteran center-back Sauerbrunn and workhorse Dahlkemper, has proven its worth with a clean sheet for the entire tournament. The team’s offensive and defensive dominance should lead to a successful 2019 Women’s World Cup.

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