In the first of two international friendlies against Uzbekistan, the USWNT found no shortage of scoring opportunities Saturday evening.
The match took place at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio. It was the first time the USWNT faced the Central Asia-based national team.
The USWNT had many chances early on in the match. In the 5th minute, the team was denied chances after hitting the woodwork back-to-back. Uzbekistan’s goalkeeper Laylo Tilovova had a few outstanding saves early in the half to keep a scoreless draw until the 26th minute.
At that point, Andi Sullivan netted the first goal of the game. Catarina Macario sent in the corner kick for it to be flicked on by Lindsey Horan and Alana Cook, before eventually landing to Sullivan who headed the ball past a moving Tilovova. Moments later, Mallory Pugh got the second goal of the game after Rose Lavelle intercepted Uzbekistan’s kickoff.
Sophia Smith’s three-goal game started in the 33rd minute. Pugh sent the ball across the box to Smith, who buried the ball into the back of the net. Two minutes later, she gets her second of the match. Sullivan intercepted Tilovova’s punt and found Smith on the left side where she easily slotted it away.
Going into halftime, the USWNT led 4-0. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski made two substitutions at the break. Jaelin Howell and Kristie Mewis came on for Sullivan and Horan to start the second half.
A goal came immediately at the start of the half courtesy of Macario, who had numerous chances in the first half. Lavelle sent a perfectly weighted ball behind the backline for Macario to slot the ball into the back of the net. Ten minutes later, Smith struck again to secure her hat trick on the night.
In the 64th minute, Howell got her first international goal after volleying Pugh’s corner kick past the keeper. Six minutes later, Uzbekistan’s Aziza Norboeva scored the team’s only goal. The goal was caused by poor defending for the USWNT when the corner came into the box to the wide-open Norboeva.
Washington Spirit players Ashley Hatch and Ashley Sanchez scored the last two goals of the game. Hatch’s goal came from a header after she challenged the keeper in the air. Sanchez performed a well-kept dribble into the box before curling the ball around Tilovova to mark her first international goal for the team.
What’s next for the USWNT
The USWNT plays their second match against Uzbekistan on Tuesday, April 12. For stateside viewers, the match will be available on ESPN2.