LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. -- The U.S. U20 Women’s National Team could not hang onto the lead in a 3-3 draw against England on Thursday at the 2017 Nike Friendlies. USA had the lead at 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2, but England had a quick answer every time and the teams settled for a draw in their opening game from the international event. England won a practice penalty kick shootout after the game that had no impact on the standings for the event.
Brazil defeated Finland 4-0 in the first game of the Nike Friendlies on Thursday afternoon.
Sophia Smith was the hero for the U.S. squad in the game. The Real Colorado forward scored twice in the draw. She scored the first one in the 19th minute. Club teammate Jaelin Howell picked off the pass in the center of the field and played a pass in front of Smith. The striker raced onto the pass and finished with a great first touch shot. Smith had two other chances to score in the opening half. She tried her luck from 25 yards out in the opening seven minutes that required a good save from the England keeper Ellie Roebuck. She had another shot from the top of the 18-yard box in the 39th minute. Roebuck also saved that shot.
England found the first equalizer in the 20th minute. The quick response from Smith’s first goal came from Ellie Brazil. The forward raced behind the USA defense following a long ball into the attacking third. Brazil tucked her shot against the path of Naomi Girma, who was recovering on the play, and into the corner of the goal.
USA jumped back on top in the 25th minute. The play started with a Jordan Brewster free kick served to the far post. Zoe Morse kicked the ball back into the center of the goal. A retreating defender from England knocked the ball into the net.
England had a chance right before half to get back to even terms, but missed the net on the opportunity. USA went into the break with a 2-1 advantage.
In the 54th minute, England scored to make it 2-2. The shot came from the 18-yard box and hit the inside of the post and went into the net.
USA looked like they had the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute, but Roebuck made two good saves on shots from Civana Kuhlman and Samantha Coffey.
Ivory came up with the save of the game in the 86th minute. Rinsola Babajide was free inside of six yards from goal and she hit a low, hard volley to Ivory’s right, but the Virginia goalkeeper made a great one-hand save.
Smith answered the chance with her second goal of the game. It was a piece of individual brilliance as she used a good start and stop move in the box and then blasted the ball past the keeper and into the net with her left foot.
England scored to make it 3-3 in the 90th minute. It was a corner kick served into the box that Alessia Russo header off the crossbar and over the line. At first, it looked like Ivory might have done enough to keep it out, but the referee awarded the goal.
England won the practice penalty kick shootout 5-4. USA returns to action on Saturday with a game against Finland at the Nike Friendlies.