CHULA VISTA, Calif. - February 18, 2020 - On the final day of competition between the U.S. Rise Women's National Team and Canada's U-18 team, USA swept their opponents with another two wins, while scoring an impressive 15 goals and conceding zero, at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
The first match started with a relatively even first half that was characterized by some staunch Rise USWNT penalty corner defense to keep Canada at bay and a pair of well executed penalty corner routines at the other end to get the red, white and blue on the board. Claudia Thomas (Louisville, Ky.) opened the scoring with a sweep from the top of the circle in the third minute and then Courtney Kenah (Telford, Pa.) deflected in a well delivered ball from Abigail Tamer (Whitmore Lake, Mich.) two minutes later. Annika Herbine (Macungie, Pa.) got in on the action just before the end of the first quarter when Alexandra Morgan (Winnetka, Ill.) found her on the far post to round out a back-to-front series of passes. Another goal was added before halftime after an eerily similar passage of play and a nice line break from Josephine Palde (Schwenksville, Pa.) who found herself in space and 1-on-1 with the Canada goalkeeper and took her chance well.
USA would go on to add two more goals early in the second half through Grace Norair (Fredericksburg, Va.) and Reagan Cornelius (New Albany, Ohio). Norair finished off a baseline attack by Herbine just after the break and then Cornelius found the bottom corner after picking up the pieces as the ball broke loose in the circle. The final score stood 6-0 to USA.
“Throughout the game we focused on reshaping which created depth and width," said Palde. "This then opened up space for our center midfielders to pop into the empty pockets, for our outside midfielders to stretch the sidelines and our forwards to be high and on the baseline. We established a passing flow and that resulted in goal scoring opportunities."
“We really came together and figured out some of the little things we had been working on all weekend," commented Tamer. "Using quick transitions and changing our point of attack, we were able to capitalize on our chances."
In match two, three goals in a 4-minute span to start the second quarter got USA going with what proved to be a decisive lead. Lauren Wadas (Annville, Pa.) fired home a rocket from the top of the circle for her first of the afternoon after she won the ball on the press. Two-minutes later Alexandra Wesneski (Forty Fort, Pa.) opened her account as she put the finishing touches on a quick strike counterattack that was started by Kelly Smith (Downingtown, Pa.) deep in USA territory. Wadas then found the target for the second time after some good two-touch possession from USA.
Canada stood firm until the end of the third quarter when Wesneski was awarded a penalty stroke after a robust tackle and she duly obliged and converted. With a 4-0 lead heading into the final quarter, USA added another five before the final whistle. First, Mia Leonhardt (Media, Pa.) used her body well to protect the ball before finding the backboard with a quick shot and then Hope Rose (Dauphin, Pa.) added two in quick succession. Rose’s first came after a sublime deceptive pass from back-to-front from Erin Reilly (Saline, Mich.), the second through the speed of Caroline Nemec (Darien, Conn.) down the right baseline. Next, Wesneski completed her hat trick with a direct hit from a penalty corner before Elizabeth Yeager (Rye, N.Y.) added the final goal with a backhand strike from 12-yards out to make the final 9-0.
“We developed a lot from the first game to the last," added Wesneski. "We started slow but we picked up the tempo and started to create chances. We had a really good connection with each other throughout."
This coming weekend, the U.S. U-16 and U-21 Women's National Teams will meet their counterparts for three games each taking place on Friday, February 21, Saturday, February 22 and Sunday, February 23 at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
For more information regarding the Junior USWNT vs. Canada series including the schedule, results, rosters and more, check out the official event page by clicking here.