The U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team clinched a semifinal spot with Sunday's 6-0 victory against Cuba in the team's second Group B match of the CONCACAF U-20 Women's Championship at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
The U.S. U-20s have scored 12 goals in two group matches so far after also scoring six times in the victory against Guatemala last Friday. Katie Stengel and Maya Hayes led the way for the U.S. with each posting two first-half goals.
The victory assured the USA of a spot in the semifinals position, but the young Americans will go for the group title against host Panama at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 6. The match will be streamed live on CONCACAF.com and fans can follow the action as it happens on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker. Should the USA take the top spot in Group B, they would play the second place team from Group A in the semifinal for a berth to the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.
The top three finishers in the tournament all will qualify for the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup to be held in Japan this fall.
"It was a good result for us, I thought we started off well," said U.S. U-20 Women's National Team head coach Steve Swanson. "We got a goal pretty quickly there that was a great goal by Katie Stengel that set the tone. It was a tough game. Cuba was well organized and they did a good job of bottling up the middle in the first half. I thought we did much better in the second half and we were able to use some of our depth today, which was nice."
Cuba had an energetic start, but the USA quickly turned the tide as Stengel put the U.S. on the board just five minutes into the game. Chioma Ubogagu set her up with a pass from the left side and Stengel's left-footed shot crisply found the back of the net for an early 1-0 lead.
It was all U.S. from then on as the team wove together a possession-heavy, creative game that was also on display during the opening win against Guatemala.
Hayes made it 2-0 in the 25th minute when she scored a bullet on a header off a fantastic service from Crystal Dunn, who raced down the right side before crossing into the middle. It was Dunn's third assist in two games.
Hayes notched her second goal of the match in the 29th minute when Cuba goalkeeper Dainelis Moreno misjudged Mollie Pathman's cross from the left. Hayes challenged hard for the cross and when the goalkeeper and the defender failed to get a piece of the ball, she rushed in and out-hustled Cuba's Odette Bayeaux to finish from close range for a three-goal edge.
Stengel upped the lead to 4-0 with some strong footwork past Cuba's Regla de la Caridad Ponce into the left side of the penalty area and placed a shot underneath Moreno's glove and into the near post in the 37th minute.
Second-half substitute Vanessa DiBernardo got her first goal of the tournament when Cuba's defense could not clear the ball in 52nd minute. DiBernardo blocked the clearance and then struck a sizzling volley over the goalkeeper and into the net from the top of the penalty area. Moreno was too far off her line to make a play on the shot.
U.S. forward Lindsey Horan, who had a hat trick in the opening win against Guatemala, also came on for the start of the second half and assisted Ubogagu's goal in the 84th minute for the final 6-0 advantage. Ubogagu used her speed to race into the left side of the penalty box while running onto the Horan pass and then struck a left-footed shot past the slipping Moreno's outstretched arms and into the right side of the net.
Swanson utilized the depth on his roster following the first group win against Guatemala, resting several players and taking midfielder Samantha Mewis and Stengel off at halftime. Julie Johnston, who had the USA's second goal against Guatemala on Friday, did not see action against Cuba. Swanson also switched up his goalkeepers, inserting Abby Smith in place of Bryane Heaberlin. Smith had very little to do, especially in the second half, and was not forced to make a save in picking up the shutout.
- U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team Match Report -
Match: United States U-20 Women's National Team vs. Cuba
Competition: 2012 CONCACAF U-20 Women's Championship; Group B
Venue: Estadio Rommel Fernandez; Panama City, Panama
Weather: 81 degrees, mostly sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 4 2 6
CUB 0 0 0
USA - Katie Stengel (Chioma Ubogagu) 4th minute
USA - Maya Hayes (Crystal Dunn) 25
USA - Maya Hayes (Mollie Pathman) 29
USA - Katie Stengel 36
USA - Vanessa DiBernardo 51
USA - Chioma Ubogagu (Lindsey Horan) 84
Lineups: USA: 18-Abby Smith, ; 4-Crystal Dunn, 17- Olivia Brannon, 5-Kassey Kallman, 2-Mollie Pathman (capt.); 15-Samantha Mewis (12-Vanessa DiBernardo, 46), 6-Morgan Brian, 10-Mandy Laddish (16-Sarah Killion, 70); 20-Maya Hayes, 14-Katie Stengel (11-Lindsey Horan, 46), 9-Chioma Ubogagu
Subs not used: 1-Bryane Heaberlin, 3-Cari Roccaro, 8-Julie Johnston; 7-Kealia Ohai
Head Coach: Steve Swanson
CUB: 1-Dainelis Moreno; 3-Indira Manzano (capt.), 4-Milagro Ramirez, 5-Yarisleidy Mena, 9-Maria Perez, 11-Rachel Pelaez, 14-Maidoni Goitizolo, 15-Odette Bayeaux (6-Esmeralda Marcos, 50), 16-Roxana Galan (2-Tayde Bacallao, 52), 17-Regla de la Caridad Ponce, 18-Yoana Calderon (7-Solayne Gutierrez, 78)
Subs not used: 8-Yanet Tamayo, 12-Maysu LeonHead Coach: Jose Luis Elejalde
Stats Summary: USA / CUB
Shots: 15 / 1
Shots on Goal: 9 / 0
Saves: 0 / 3
Corner Kicks: 11 / 1
Fouls: 2 / 6
Offside: 4 / 1