The United States celebrates after scoring during their CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship win over Canada on November 4, 2013, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. (Photo: Mexsport)
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Zoe Redei scored one goal and assisted on another to lift the United States to a 2-0 victory over Canada in the 2013 CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship on Monday at Catherine Hall Stadium.
The Americans finished first in Group B play with a perfect 3-0-0 record, while Canada lost for the first time in three games to grab the runner-up spot.
Thursday’s semifinal doubleheader will determine which two sides advance to the tournament’s championship match, as well as qualify for the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. In the opener, the U.S. will face Mexico, followed by an encounter between host Jamaica and Canada.
From outset, it was clear that pressuring Canada all over the field was the key component to the American game plan.
The tactic nearly paid early dividends in the 11th minute, when Tegan McGrady hit the top of the Canadian crossbar from 18-yards out.
Five minutes later, Mallory Pugh’s attempt, after some nimble footwork near the edge of penalty box, compelled goalkeeper Rylee Foster into a diving – but not difficult – save.
Foster thwarted Pugh again in the 26th minute. This time, she was forced to extend herself fully in order to deny an effort that appeared destined for the lower right corner.
The U.S. went ahead 1-0 in the 36th minute. Canada defender Bianca St. Georges mistimed a clearance under duress, allowing the ball to slip in behind towards her own goal. Elisabeth Jean ran onto it in the right side of the box and delivered a pass that Redei lunged at to poke past Foster. It was the 16-year-old’s fifth goal in two games.
Following the break, the Americans went on an all-out attack, knowing that it needed a victory to capture the group crown.
In the 53rd minute, Pugh raced into the left-side of the penalty area only to see Foster charge out to make an outstanding save. The ball stayed in the Canadian end, however, ultimately being collected by Dorian Bailey, who ripped a shot from 23-yards out that bounced off the left post.
Pugh finally netted in the 62nd minute, giving the U.S. a much-needed insurance tally. A long ball was played out of the back to Redei. As the forward sprinted more deeply into the box, Foster rushed out to cut down the angle. Redei slipped a perfectly-timed pass into the middle for Pugh to tap into the open net from six-yards for her third goal of the competition.
Canada’s Mika Richards was stretchered off the field late in the second half after fouling Pugh in the area for a penalty. A review of the replay showed that the defender hit the ground head first and her neck was put into a brace as a precaution.
Marley Canales’ subsequent kick was saved by Foster with two minutes left in regulation time.
In the second minute of second-half stoppage time, Emily Borgmann attempted Canada’s only shot of the half.