• Sunday Mar 04, 2012

    U.S. moves into U-20 women’s semis with 6-0 win

    PANAMA CITY - Katherine Stengel and Maya Hayes both scored a pair of first-half goals and the defending champion United States moved into the of the semifinals at the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship with a 6-0 win over Cuba on Sunday.

    The Americans improved to six points atop Group B with their second dominating win in three days and were assured of moving into the knockout round when host Panama beat Guatemala 3-1 in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader.

    Vanessa Di Bernardo, daughter of former U.S. international Angelo Di Bernardo, and Chi Ubogagu also scored for the United States, which won for the 22nd time in 25 games at the CONCACAF finals.

    Cuba lost its second straight and was eliminated, having been outscored 8-1.

    The Cubans had the better of the very early play, pinning the Americans in their own half for the first two minutes. They had the first shot of the game when Rachel Peleaz dribbled to the top of the U.S. penalty area before sending a low skipping ball just wide of the left post in the fourth minute.

    But the United States, which made five changes to their starting lineup from Friday's 6-0 win over Guatemala, quickly countered and scored on its first shot in the fifth minute. Ubogagu worked free down the left, entered the area and dropped a ball back to the top of the 18, where Stengel took one touch and struck a drive past Cuban keeper Dainelis Moreno.

    The Americans then began to dominate, forcing Cuba to pull 10 players behind the ball and leaving Yoana Calderon alone up front without much service.

    Chances came quickly with Morgan Brian shooting high twice, Moreno having to come off her line to smother a through ball and deny a charging Ubogagu and a shot from Hayes inside the area that Moreno had to grab.

    Hayes finally scored the first of her two in less than five minute in the 25th, finishing with an unchallenged header at the seven after Sam Mewis played a ball wide right to Chrystal Dunn, who easily beat her defender and sent a sharp cross into the middle of the area.

    Hayes increased the lead to 3-0 by beating Moreno to a high looping ball from Mollie Pathman at the edge of the six. The ball dropped inside the goal box and with Cuban defender Odette Bayeaux challenging, Hayes toe-poked it as Bayeaux fell.

    Defender Milagro Ramirez saved a rolling shot by Ubogagu off the line in the 36th, but a minute later Stengel - who also tallied against Guatemala -- scored her second. She raced down the left, outpacing Indira Manzano and then dribbling past Regla Ponce before finishing with a left foot from the corner of the six.

    The Cubans, who again only had four available substitutions - including reserve keeper Maysu Leon, remained defensive throughout the game. The Americans outshot the Caribbean islanders 21-1 and went ahead 5-0 in the 52nd when Di Bernardo, whose father scored three goals in 20 games for the United States from 1979-1985, blocked an attempted clearance by Ponce at the 18 and volleyed the rebound with a quick right foot.

    Ubogagu finally scored her first in the 84th, running onto a ball from Lindsey Horan and hitting a left-footed strike from a meter outside the penalty area into the far-side netting.

    The result was similar to the only other meeting between the two at the U-20 Women's Championship when the Americans won 9-0 in 2008.

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