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U.S. rally to beat Mexico in stoppage time at U-20s

Ashley Sanchez set up both U.S. goals in a dramatic, late win to advance at the U-20 World Cup. (Photo: USSF)

Ashley Sanchez set up both U.S. goals in a dramatic, late win to advance at the U-20 World Cup. (Photo: USSF)

Down a goal with less than 10 minutes until full time, the United States U-20 team leaned on its depth to rally for a 2-1 victory over Mexico early Friday. The win earned them a date with North Korea in Tuesday’s semifinal. France and Japan will contest the second semifinal, also Tuesday.

Ally Watt and Kelcie Hedge did not enter the match until the U.S. was down 1-0, but they scored a goal apiece including Hedge’s dramatic game-winner deep in stoppage time. That happened in the second half when Maria Sanchez put Mexico on top in the 66th minute. Watt leveled the match in the 81st minute and Hedge won it in stoppage time after Mallory Pugh stepped over Ashley Sanchez’s ball. Hedge had not appeared in the tournament prior to replacing Jessie Scarpa at 68 minutes. Sanchez set up both U.S. goals.

“Mexico was everything we thought they would be and more,” U.S. head coach Michelle French told “I said after the last game that our best soccer was in front of us, but today it wasn’t about the soccer, it was about the heart and determination and the USA mentality that we’ve seen over the years. The resolve this group of players played with, the belief that the players one through twenty-one had that we would come back and get a result was amazing. Looking in their eyes during the water break (at 75 minutes), they one hundred percent felt they could come back in the game, and that’s something that’s been built into our culture. What a crazy, crazy game and a really fun way to make the semifinal.”

The match included some fascinating family dynamics that saw twin sisters on opposite sides of the lines. Sabrina and Monica Flores are teammates at Notre Dame, but Sabrina plays for the United States while Monica has taken the path to represent Mexico. Friday, Sabrina started for the U.S. and was the player subbed off for Watt. Monica went the distance for Mexico.

In Friday’s other quarterfinal, France rode a 16th minute goal by Delphine Cascarino to a 1-0 victory over Germany. France will play Japan on Tuesday morning at 4:30 a.m. EST in the second of two semifinals. The U.S. and North Korea will get the day started at 1 a., EST. The final is Saturday, December 3.


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