@USWNT

USA 1, Canada 0

Goals: Rose Lavelle 79’

The SheBelieves Cup kicked off on Thursday, with four elite international teams vying for a championship title. Competing in the tournament this year are the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina, with six matches set to take place from February 18th to the 24th. On the hunt for their fourth SheBelieves Cup victory is the United States, who secured the title in 2016, 2018, and 2020.

The first match of the tournament saw Brazil defeat Argentina, 4-1, with Marta, Debinha, Adriana Leal da Silva, and Geyse Ferreira scoring a goal apiece to propel Brazil to their first victory of the tournament. Mariana Larroquette scored the lone goal for Argentina.

Brazil is now set to take on the United States on Sunday, February 21st at 3:00 PM EST, and Argentina will face Canada at 6:00 PM EST later that day.

A rivalry match-up was on the table as the United States and Canada faced off in the second match of the SheBelieves Cup. To the surprise of many, Thursday night’s winner was not determined until the final minutes of match play, when Rose Lavelle scored the go-ahead goal to earn three points for the USWNT.

Though the Americans were able to see the win through, head coach Vlatko Andonovski was less than satisfied with the result. As reported by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Andonovski said he was “disappointed” with the USWNT’s performance.

“When we create 10 opportunities to score and we score one, I’m disappointed because I want us to score more goals. And on top of that, if we allow any shots to goal, I’m not going to be happy, and I thought tonight [Canada] had a couple of good opportunities to score. We’re going to look into it. We’re going to look a little bit deeper why that happened.”

Also sharing her thoughts on the match was USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn: “This team prides itself on being able to find ways to win, and sometimes we win pretty and sometimes we win ugly, and tonight was one of those nights where we won ugly. It’s important that when things aren’t going right, that we’re not vibing right, that we can find a way to win and we did that tonight, which is a good sign about this team’s mentality.”

Here’s how the USWNT made it happen:

The opening 20 minutes were purely defensive for both sides, until Lynn Williams was able to slip a pass to Catarina Macario in the box. On her first touch, Macario fired off a shot that sailed over the crossbar and out of bounds, attempting to net her second international goal. The opportunity was one of the first of the night for the United States, who against Colombia notched goals within the first 10 minutes of both games back in January.

Later, in the 31st minute, Crystal Dunn lofted a ball into the box, her cross taking a bounce before meeting the head of Williams. Williams redirected the header towards the net, only for the chance to be saved by Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé to maintain the 0-0 deadlock. Labbé, who came in as a substitute early into the match, replaced starter Kailen Sheridan following what appeared to be an injury to Sheridan’s upper leg after dishing out a pass.

A mere three minutes later, Lynn Williams was on the ball again, this time sending in a cross from the right flank and finding Carli Lloyd in the air. Lloyd’s header was narrowly saved by Labbé, who leapt into the air to tip the ball just over the crossbar, notching yet another impressive save to keep Canada in the game.

United States goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher would be put to the test immediately afterward, as Nichelle Prince placed a perfect ball into the path of Janine Beckie. Beckie’s first touch began the demise of the scoring chance, as it gave Naeher ample time to make the diving save and knock the ball out of bounds.

As the first half wound to a close, a shot by Megan Rapinoe was boggled by Labbé and nearly tapped in as a scramble ensued in the six. Luckily for the Canadians, the ball was knocked out of bounds, and the first half ended with the rivals tied at 0-0.

Another dangerous opportunity for the United States came in the 51st minute, with Williams putting another cross into the box. On the other end of William’s cross was Rapinoe, whose first touch was a redirection towards goal in an attempt to draw first blood. Labbé responded with another save, further extending the Americans’ scoreless bout.

Minutes later, Janine Beckie was given another chance to go one-on-one with Alyssa Naeher after being slotted a pass from Nichelle Prince, but again, Beckie took too much time to get a shot off and was denied by the American goalkeeper for a second time.

Finally, in the 78th minute, the US was awarded a free kick from outside the eighteen. The kick, taken by none other than Williams, was lofted into the box and cleared by a Canadian defender. The clearance attempt was intercepted by Rose Lavelle, who buried the game-winner from outside the six to lift the United States to a 1-0 victory.

Lavelle’s goal was her 14th for her country, and what better time to add to her career total than in the final minutes of a rivalry match?

Though the United States’ performance was not up to their usual standard, their relentless grit allowed them to seal the win and remain competitive for another SheBelieves Cup title with two more matches on the horizon. Stay tuned for more SheBelieves Cup action this Sunday, as the United States takes the pitch against Brazil at 3:00 pm EST (FS1, TUDN).

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