ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – If you thought the goal that the United States (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) scored in its 1-0 win over Mexico (1-0-1, 3) on Sunday in the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship looked particularly well-rehearsed, you would be right.
In the 73rd minute of a tightly-contested encounter, from just inside the Mexican half, Kiara Pickett first-timed a pass from the left wing into the left side of the box. Before the feed was even delivered, the active Ashley Sanchez was making a sprint towards that space. As Sanchez and goalkeeper Kelsey Brann were about to collide, the unflinching U.S. midfielder lifted the ball with her left foot into an open net for her third goal of the competition.
It was a spectacularly executed play based on thought, speed, precision and, of course, practice.
“Ashley and I have been playing with each other for a very long time, so we know what we’re going to do off and on the field,” said Pickett. “I didn’t even see Ashley, but I knew she was going to be there. So I just one-touched to Ash and I was like ‘you just go for it’. We already had that planned.”
Sanchez, the only U.S. player to score in the first two CU17W games, echoed Pickett’s sentiments.
“I had a felling she (Pickett) was going to play it,” said the 16-year-old in understated fashion. “We had a goal like that before. She ended up playing it and I was in. I just tapped it over the goalie.”
When asked if her team practices those type of plays, Sanchez responded: “Yes, we have combinations and patterns that we do and it was one that we had practiced last week.”
As the ball crossed the line, Pickett was ecstatic to see everything come to fruition as planned.
“I was like, ‘let’s do this, we’re doing it’,” she expressed. “You can see the play developing and you’re just waiting for the goal to happen because I knew it was going to happen.”