Ashley Hatch scored yet another early goal for the USWNT. (USA TODAY Photo)
The U.S. women’s national team concluded its year with a 1-1 draw with Australia in front of 20,459 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, Australia on Tuesday.
Forward Ashley Hatch scored in the fourthh minute as the Americans will return home with a win and a tie.
Australia equalized on Kyah Simon’s goal in the 88th minute.
The U.S. opened the scoring after a pass from forward Lynn Williams found Margaret Purce, who ran the ball down near the end line on the right flank. She laid off a pass back to the middle of the box to meet Hatch’s run for a one-time finish and another early lead.
The goal marked Hatch’s second career tally and second in as many matches. The 2021 National Women’s Soccer League Golden Boot winner scored the third-fastest goal in USWNT history when she registered her first international goal 24 seconds into the 3-0 victory over the Matildas on Nov. 27.
On the other end of the pitch, with center backs Alana Cook and Tierna Davidson again partnering well together, and outside backs Emily Fox and Sofia Huerta earning their eighth and ninth caps respectively, the USWNT played a stellar defensive game. The visitors frustrated the Australian attack and limiting the hosts to one shot on target in the first half. That came in the 20th minute via a powerful volley by Mary Fowler that was struck from the top of the box and skidded off the turf before goalkeeper Casey Murphy pushed it off the right post. Australia did not another shot on goal until their equalizer in the 88th minute.
Despite being denied time and time again by the U.S. defense, the hosts found their break in the dying moments as forward Sam Kerr settled the ball at the top of the box and found forward Simon with a short pass. Simon fired a shot that deflected off a U.S. defender that skipped past a wrong-footed Murphy into the right side of the net.
The USA almost found the game-winning goal in the second minute of stoppage time as Lindsay Horan put the ball in the net on a sliding volley, but she was ruled offside.
The USA ended 2021 with a 17-2-5 record. The USWNT played 24 matches in four different continents (North America, Europe, Asia and Australia) during the COVID-19 pandemic.