SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – The U.S. Under-20 women’s youth national team defeated Mexico, 2-0, in the championship game of the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship to earn a record seventh Concacaf title for this age group.

A goal early in the game from forward Michelle Cooper and late in first half from midfielder Talia DellaPeruta staked the USA to a 2-0 halftime lead that it would not relinquish.

“I am just so grateful, we all sacrificed so much to be here,” Cooper said. “It’s been years in the making due to COVID-19, so I’m just really proud of all my teammates and we’re all just really excited to come out of here with gold.”

Prior to the match, the USA and Mexico had already secured berths to the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup through semifinal victories, but regional bragging rights were on the line.

The Americans continued the attacking dominance they have showed throughout the tournament despite a game effort from a tough Mexican side.

The USA gave an early indication how the match would play out, scoring in the third minute as Cooper hustled to block a clearance from Mexico goalkeeper Celeste Espino and then finished into the open net. The goal gave Cooper eight for the tournament and made her the Golden Boot winner. The 19-year-old also was named the Golden Ball winner as the tournament’s best player.

Cooper’s goal was the third-fastest the U.S. has scored from the opening whistle in this competition. The Americans tallied in the first minute in the opening game vs. Nicaragua and in the second minute in the Round of 16 match vs. Suriname.

The U.S. also put the ball into the net after a fine defensive play in the sixth minute as forward Alyssa Thompson stripped Mexico defender Samantha Lopez in the back. But after a VAR replay, it was determined that the ball had hit Thompson’s arm as she rounded Espino, who got a piece of the ball with her toe to deflect it up and cause a hand ball.

In the 34th minute, Espino came up big, making a great save on a one-on-one chance from forward Simone Jackson after the USA had broken through off a swift counterattack.

The second goal came after the USA earned a penalty kick in the 41st minute when Alexxandra Ramirez chopped down Thompson as she blew past her into the right side of the penalty box. DellaPeruta stepped up and buried the penalty kick for a two-goal lead just before halftime.

The goal was the fifth of the tournament for DellaPeruta – and second off a penalty kick – a total made all the more impressive coming from her defensive midfielder position. This victory marked the fourth Concacaf youth title for DellaPeruta, a U.S. record for a youth player. She was a part of U.S. teams that won Concacaf titles at the U-15 (2016), U-17 (2018) and U-20 (2020, 2022) levels.

Mexico came closest to scoring in the 50th minute when Natalia Mauleon hit the crossbar from 23 yards, but the ball was then cleared out of danger.

In the 86th minute, U.S. goalkeeper Neeku Purcell was called upon to make her first difficult save of the tournament, as she dove up and back to push a dripping drive from Mauleon over the crossbar and preserve the shutout.