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2016 Rio Olympics

Morgan’s hat trick sends USWNT to 2016 Olympics

Alex Morgan scored a hat trick to help the USWNT beat Trinidad and Tobago, 5-0 and qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. (AP Photo)

Alex Morgan scored a hat trick to help the USWNT beat Trinidad and Tobago, 5-0 and qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. (AP Photo)

Alex Morgan scored a hat trick on Friday, and the inevitable became official: The United States women’s national team is headed to Brazil this summer for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The U.S. women defeated Trinidad and Tobago, 5-0 in a CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying semifinal at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas, clinching a berth to this summer’s Games. Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd added a goal each in addition to Morgan’s hat trick for the United States.

The U.S. women are three-time defending Olympic gold medalists and reigning world champions after last year’s World Cup triumph. They have won four of the five all-time Olympic gold medals in women’s soccer, taking the silver medal in 2000.

Canada earned the other Olympic berth out of CONCACAF by defeating Costa Rica, 3-1 on Friday in the other semifinal. Christine Sinclair scored a brace, including a stunning goal.

[MORE: Does CONCACAF qualifying system of cramming games need overhaul?]

Heath opened the scoring in the 12th minute, finishing a low cross from 17-year-old Mallory Pugh, who was active and dangerous throughout the first half.

Morgan doubled the lead at the half-hour mark with a tap-in. Lindsey Horan headed down Kelley O’Hara’s cross right into the path of Morgan for the goal. Carli Lloyd’s goal two minutes before halftime came thanks in large part to the error of Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, who let the ball slip through her hands and then between her legs en route to goal:

Both goals in the second half came through Morgan in the span of two minutes. She scored in the 71st minute after a scramble in front of net and then she redirected Morgan Brian’s cross in the 73rd minute for her third goal.

[MORE: Ellis discusses progression of Pugh from age 12 to now]

Canada and the U.S. will play on Sunday in the tournament final, but both are already going to Rio. There will be no playoff game for Trinidad and Tobago nor Costa Rica.

The U.S. women are yet to let up a goal this tournament, defeating their four opponents by a combined 21-0. Canada has scored the most goals this tournament, combining to win their four games 24-1.

Nine of the 12 women’s soccer berths at the 2016 Rio Olympics are now claimed, with the U.S. and Canada joining Germany and France from Europe, Brazil and Colombia from South America, New Zealand from Oceania and South Africa and Zimbabwe from Africa. Two contestants from Asia and one more contestant from Europe will be determined next month.

[MORE: Four USWNT players highlight first-ever Women’s World XI]

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