Players from the USA (pictured) celebrate after scoring against host Honduras in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship semifinals on December 11, 2015, in San Pedro Sula. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- The United States qualified for the next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and moved closer to a fourth-straight CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship title after a 7-0 win over host Honduras on Friday night at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.
In the semifinal, Ashley Sanchez and Mallory Pugh each scored two goals, while Jessie Scarpa and Marley Canales added one apiece. Honduras’ Cherry Velazquez netted a late own-goal as the Americans set-up a meeting with Canada to conclude the tournament on Sunday.
Honduras still has a chance to claim a spot at Papua New Guinea 2016, but to do so, it will have to beat Mexico – which fell to Canada on penalty kicks 5-4 after a scoreless draw earlier -- in the match for third place.
Sanchez opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, when she corralled a Jessie Scarpa cross from the left side, had the time to beat a defender and then unleashed a tight-angle shot go that beat goalkeeper Madelinne Nieto at the short side.
Two minutes later, Pugh etched her name on the scoresheet for fourth straight game. The 17-year-old stabbed home from the edge of the six-yard box off Savannah DeMelo’s right-sided cross.
Pugh was the provider for Sanchez’s second of the night in the 38th minute by putting a perfectly weighted ball over the top of the Honduran back-line. Sanchez was there to control the ball perfectly with her right foot and, after allowing the ball to bounce once, scored with her left.
Ella Stevens setup the Americans first goal of the second half, placing a low, through ball in for Pugh to take in stride in the 61st minute. The 17-year-old outpaced Honduran defender Katherine Amador and scored with her first touch of the ball, sending it across the goal and just inside the post.
Scarpa then tapped in from four-yards out in the 66th minute thanks to a picture-perfect Sanchez feed from the right and Canales made it 6-0 with an 88th minute header off a left-sided cross by Shannon Horgan.
In the sixth minute of stoppage time, Velasquez inadvertently directed DeMelo’s cross asshe was cutting from right to left.