U.S. edges Haiti on PKs to reach CU20W final, qualify for World Cup

USA players (pictured) celebrate after outlasting Haiti on penalty kicks in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship semifinals on January 26, 2018, in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: CA-Images)

COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago — The United States clinched a spot in the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship final and booked a ticket to the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, prevailing over Haiti on penalty kicks, 3-0, after their semifinal ended in a 1-1 draw on Friday at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Zoe Morse converted the winner in the fourth round for the Americans, who are targeting a fifth consecutive title in the competition and sixth overall.

A scoreless deadlock was snapped in the 75th minute, when the USA’s Jaelin Howell put away the rebound of her own saved shot.

Haiti, which finished the match with 10 players after Emeline Charles was sent off for a second bookable offense, leveled in the second minute of stoppage time as Nerilia Mondesir latched onto a ball by Melchie Daelle Dumonay and used her right knee to half-volley into the net for her fourth goal of the tournament.

It was only the second-ever goal conceded by the United States in eight all-time CU20W semifinal games, while scoring 33 goals over that same stretch.

Mondesir had a chance to give Haiti an advantage in the shootout after Haiti goalkeeper Kerly Theus denied Sophia Smith, but the high-scoring forward pushed her attempt wide left with U.S. custodian Amanda McGlynn diving the other way.

McGlynn was solid the rest of the way, saving attempts by Dumonay and Roseline Eloissaint, while Taryn Torres and Howell forced Theus the wrong way to give the United States a 2-0 lead entering the fourth round where Morse ended the drama with a low shot to the left of Theus.

The United States will face the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between Mexico and Canada in the decider on Sunday.  Haiti can still earn its first-ever U-20 Women’s World Cup appearance by winning the match for third place.