USWNT & Mexico advance to W Gold Cup semifinals at Snapdragon Stadium

Credit: USWNT

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Credit: Mexico National Team

This Sunday, March 3, the USWNT faced Colombia, and Mexico faced Paraguay in the CONCACAF W Gold Cup quarterfinals.

On Saturday, March 2, Canada defeated Costa Rica 1-0, and Brazil dominated Argentina in a 5-1 win to advance to the W Gold Cup semifinals.

Mexico has been the big surprise in this W Gold Cup, previously defeating the USWNT 2-0 and topping Group A of the competition with seven points. El Tri was expected to get past Paraguay in this quarterfinal clash,  but nothing was guaranteed in what turned out to be a hard-fought 3-2 win for Mexico at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.

The key change Pedro Lopez made to his usual starting lineup was that he started Club Tijuana’s Mayra Pelayo, who had featured off the bench in previous games. Pelayo has been one of the breakout players in this tournament, scoring two goals off the bench, including an absolute screamer against the USWNT.

Pelayo did not get a goal in this match against Paraguay but was one of the key players that generated a lot of offensive play for Pedro Lopez’s team. Jacqueline Ovalle had arguably been Mexico’s top player heading into this match at BMO Stadium, and she did not disappoint with two goals against the CONMEBOL side. The first came in the 31st minute when Ovalle scored from a shot inside of the box off a cross by Mayra Pelayo. Ovalle’s second goal of the game came at a crucial point in the match, when Mexico had a slim 2-1 lead in the 69th minute.

The Tigres Femenil forward scored after a rebound off a shot by her teammate Stephany Mayor, who was denied by Paraguay’s goalkeeper Alicia Bobadilla. Previous to this goal, Karen Luna scored off a powerful shot from inside of the penalty area in the 49th minute, and Mexico goalkeeper Esthefanny Barreras stopped a penalty taken by Jessica Martinez in the 51st minute.

While the offense led by Jacqueline Ovalle was key in this match for Mexico, the defense featuring team captain Rebeca Bernal and Tijuana native Greta Espinoza was also vital for the victory against a tough Paraguay side. The match was a very entertaining one at BMO Stadium and now Mexico will face Brazil in the W Gold Cup semifinals at Snapdragon Stadium on March 6.

The USWNT defeated Colombia 3-0 quite comfortably to secure their ticket to the W Gold Cup semifinals after an inconsistent showing in the group stage. San Diego Wave’s Alex Morgan, Naomi Girma, and Jaedyn Shaw all started in this match against Colombia, while Abby Dahlkemper was sidelined for the day. The first goal for the USWNT came in the 13th minute of the clash when Lindsey Horan scored from the penalty spot to make it a 1-0 game. There were some fiery interactions between U.S. and Colombia players before the penalty involving Alex Morgan and Trinity Rodman especially.

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In the 22nd minute Jenna Nighswonger scored the second goal of the game off a shot from inside of the box after a Colombia defender headed the ball straight to her. The third goal came in stoppage time of the first half when Jaedyn Shaw scored off a cross by Trinity Rodman, as the San Diego wave attacker became the youngest player to ever score for the USWNT in the knockout round of a competitive tournament.

Shaw played up until the 56th minute before being replaced by Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan played 72 minutes before being replaced by Sophia Smith, and Naomi Girma played the full 90 minutes. The USWNT really took down the intensity in the second half and were able to maintain the 3-0 result against Colombia.

The USWNT will play Canada in the semifinals at Snapdragon Stadium in what is expected to be a very intense rivalry match with plenty of local support for the San Diego Wave players and for the U.S.

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