The Hon. Emmalin Pierre, Grenada's Minister of Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs, presents the CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship trophy to the champion USA on March 13, 2016, in St. George's, Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)
ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada -- Civana Kuhlmann scored the game-winning goal to help the United States become the first three-time winner of the CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship with a 2-1 victory over Mexico in an eventful final on Sunday evening.
The 16-year-old forward’s 86th-minute strike was her fourth of the tournament and sixth over two CU17W appearances, and made the difference as the Americans their first CU17W title since 2012.
Ashley Sanchez also scored at the Grenada Athletics Stadium for the U.S. and was named the tournament’s Golden Ball winner.
Jacqueline Ovalle answered Sanchez’s strike with a 69th-minute equalizer for Mexico, her second goal of the tournament. Tricolor goalkeeper Miriam Aguirre made nine saves in a meeting between two teams that had already qualified for the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup following their respective semifinal victories Friday.
Kuhlmann narrowly missed netting twice after Ovalle’s goal, before she put the USA ahead for good with four minutes remaining in normal time.
Sophia Smith created the opening when she muscled past Reyna Reyes down the right touchline and served an in-swinging cross toward the 6-yard box. Kuhlmann raced between defenders to meet it, sending it beyond Aguirre and into the top corner with a first touch off her thigh.
It was the last of three well-taken goals, though Mexico did pressure for a second equalizer. Ovalle came closest, rattling the left post in the second minute of stoppage time.
Sanchez opened the scoring in the 43rd minute on a sequence that began with an awkward deflection. She pursued the ball as it bounced back into Mexico’s penalty area as defender Alessandra Ramirez’s subsequent clearing header lacked power. The dynamic Sanchez reached it, and sent a first-time, right-footed volley looping over Aguirre from about 10 yards.
Ovalle leveled moments after Aguirre charged to stop another slaloming Sanchez run. Montserrat Hernandez created the opening from central midfield, taking down a cross with her first touch and freeing Ovalle on the left with her second. Ovalle then drove a left-footed finish from outside the penalty area beyond Laurel Ivory’s dive and inside the left post.