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Spaanstra, Sanchez strikes send U.S. to CU17W semis
Ashley Sanchez (middle) and Alexa Spaanstra (right) scored the USA's goal in its CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship win over Costa Rica on March 8, 2016, in St. George's, Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)
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ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada -- The United States (3W-0D- 0L, 9 points) clinched a semifinal berth and the Group B title with a 2-0 victory over 10-player Costa Rica (1-0-2, 3) in the 2016 CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship on Tuesday at the Grenada National Stadium.

Alexa Spaanstra and Ashley Sanchez scored for the Americans, who will play Group A runner-up Canada on Friday for a 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup spot and a place in the final.

Costa Rica, which had Stephannie Blanco sent off for accruing her second yellow card in the 82nd minute, can still progress depending on the Mexico-Jamaica result later in the day.

The U.S. enjoyed an early advantage in possession and capitalized by taking a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute.

Sophia Smith weaved wonderfully past three Costa Rica defenders into the right side of the box and sent the ball across the goal mouth, where the unmarked Alexa Spaanstra did well to slot home at the left post.

Three minutes later, the Americans almost doubled their lead as Sanchez powered an eight-yard try over the crossbar.

Sanchez increased the advantage to 2-0, converting a penalty kick to the lower left corner in the 38th minute after Blanco was given a yellow card for taking down Frank Tagliaferri in the box. The 16-year-old midfielder, whose four goals tied her for the team goal-scoring lead with Tagliaferri, is one of only two players -- along with Haiti's Mikerline Saint Felix -- to connect in all three group matches.

U.S. goalkeeper Laurel Ivory handled the ball only once, grabbing Salas' left-wing cross in the 28th minute. Merilyn Alvarado took the Central American side’s first shot, sailing an effort wide right in the 69th minute. Costa Rica was awarded an indirect free kick in the penalty area in the 81st minute, but the U.S. responded with a clearance.

 
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