Women’s National Team kicks off the World Cup Send-Off Series with a win
May 16, 2019
While many celebrated Mother’s Day with a tastybrunch with Mom, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team(WNT) celebrated with domination. The WNT teamkicked off its three-game Send-Off Series on May 12with a 3-0 victory over South Africa in Santa Clara’sbackyard, Levi’s Stadium.
It took the women a while to break through SouthAfrica’s defense during the first half. Several attemptsto find openings along the sideline were made byStanford alum Kelley O’Hara from her outside backposition. Then, just before the half, midfielder Samantha Mewis ripped a shot from the top of thepenalty area to give the Americans a 1-0 lead justbefore the half.
“At halftime, we were able to solve some things,”Mewis told Mercury News. “In a World Cup, something like that is going to be really important, beingable to make adjustments on the fly.”
Mewis continued to take control in the secondhalf, lifting the ball over South Africa’s goalkeeperKayli Swart into the back of the net to extend theU.S. lead to 2-0. It was the 11th international goalof her career.
“I think we learned a lot from our performance,”Mewis said after the game. “We were able to grow asthe game went on.”
The final goal was scored by United States teamcaptain Carli Lloyd, who dribbled between the SouthAfrican defenders and buried the shot into the backof the net. It was the 108th goal of her career, makingit a 3-0 shutout for team red white and blue. Headcoach Jill Ellis welcomed South Africa’s tough defense, telling Mercury News that her team “will faceit head on when it matters next month in France.”
On May 2 the 23-woman roster was announced,and many players reported that it wasn’t until theannouncement that the chemistry of the team finally clicked.
Before that, every player was competing for achance to wear the United States of America acrossher chest. Not everyone made the cut, and sometimesthat cold truth can greatly affect a team’s culture.
“People think it’s all rainbows and butterflies allthe time with this team. But it’s not always that waybecause you’re fighting for a roster spot,” said defender Kelley O’Hara, who was selected to her thirdWorld Cup team. “But as soon as that roster’s namedfor any big tournament, that’s when the team reallycomes together and jells and creates that chemistrythat you need to win.”
Of the 23 players, 12 were part of the 2015 teamthat won the United States third World Cup title. Thenew squad will look to do the same this summer—andwith the shutout victory over the weekend, it is offto a good start.
The Santa Clara Broncos supported the WNT onand off the field. Many of the Santa Clara women’ssoccer players attended the game, and loved “watching some of the best faces of the sport play in theirown backyard,” said the team’s captain Alex Loera.Also representing Santa Clara proudly were our veryown sports medicine staff members.
Athletic trainer Sara Siegal worked as part ofthe stretcher crew during Sunday’s game alongsideSouth Africa’s medical team.
“It was an awesome experience to be integratedinto the South African staff [and to] learn from theirexperience,” Siegal said. “I felt proud to representSanta Clara well.”
The Americans next will play New Zealand in St.Louis, Missouri on May 16 and end their tune-upseries on May 26 against Mexico. Their first game oftheir World Cup quest will be held on June 11 againstThailand in Reims, France.
Contact Lacey Yahnke firstname.lastname@example.org or call(408) 554-4852.