CONCARNEAU, France – Needing a convincing result to keep alive its chances of advancing to the quarterfinals alive, the U.S. Under-20 women’s national team recorded an emphatic 6-0 victory over Paraguay in the U-20 Women’s World Cup Thursday.
Midfielder Savannah DeMelo recorded a hat-trick, while forward Sophia Smith ran roughshod over Paraguay, bagging a brace and an assist. Forward Ashley Sanchez added a goal.
The U.S. will finish Group C play against Spain on Monday (7:30 a.m. ET) at Clos Gastel Stadium in Dinan-Léhon and needs a win to ensure advancement to the knockout stage. The top two teams in each of the four groups qualify for the quarterfinals.
The Americans sits in second place behind Spain, which defeated Japan, 1-0, earlier in the day. If the U.S. beats Spain, the teams will be tied with six points each, but Spain will be behind the U.S. on the first tie-breaker – goal difference – ensuring advancement for the Americans in either first or second place in the group, depending on the result of the Japan-Paraguay match that will be played simultaneously.
The U.S. also would advance with a Japan loss or tie vs. Paraguay, or even a loss to Spain, as long as Japan also loses, and the Americans maintain their goal difference advantage over Japan.
A physical Paraguay side gave the U.S. some resistance in the opening minutes, but the U.S. dominated the match, creating scoring chances early and never letting up on the way to a piling up a 27-7 shot margin. Paraguay had only one shot on goal, to the U.S.’s 14, and that came in the waning moments. The Americans had numerous close-range chances in the second half, which just missed the frame, that could have made the score line even greater.
After a series of dangerous chances, the U.S. finally broke through in the 15th minute on a spectacular dribbling run and finish from Smith.
The USA broke the game open with two goals in the final few minutes of the first half and one in the first minute of the second. After DeMelo made it 2-0 in the 39th minute by finishing a rebound of Smith’s shot, the game opened up for the USA attack. While Paraguay put together a few spells of possession, it was no longer a matter of if the Americans would get the three points, but how many goals they could score.
The goal that made it 3-0 on the cusp of halftime was a dagger for Paraguay as Erin Gilroy skillfully glided by a defender on the left end line before setting up DeMelo for her second.
The U.S. came out firing once again after halftime and Sanchez scored her first goal of the tournament to make it 4-0. Smith made it 5-0 on a breakaway in the 53rd and DeMelo completed her hat-trick after a lightning counter attack in the 78th.