Mallory Swanson had plenty to celebrate in the USA’s win. (USA TODAY Sports)

WELLINGTON/TE WHANGANUI-A-TARA, New Zealand – The U.S. women’s national team scored four goals in the second half as it opened its 2023 schedule with a 4-0 win over New Zealand on Wednesday.

A brace from forward Mallory Swanson, the former Mallory Pugh, along with goals from forwards Alex Morgan and Lynn Williams earned the USWNT its first win of the year as the team sets its sights on the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer.

The crowd of 12,508 fans was the largest to watch the Ferns on home soil.

While the USA didn’t score in the first half against a Ferns team intent on shutting down space in its defensive third, the USA controlled the tempo from the start. The Americans enjoyed 74 percent possession as they were patient in looking for ways to break down a solid and well-organized defense.

The USA’s halftime adjustments proved to be extremely effective as it put the game away quickly. Alana Cook entered for Naomi Girma, Sofia Huerta entered for Crystal Dunn, Andi Sullivan came on for Taylor Kornieck and Trinity Rodman came on for Midge Purce. It only took seven minutes for Swanson to open the scoring as she sprinted into the box and connected with a cross from Rodman to bury a powerful header from 12 yards.

Morgan doubled the lead in the 60th minute after Rose Lavelle played her in on goal with a fine backheel pass to split two defenders into the penalty area. That left Morgan with a one-on-one chance against Erin Nayler. Morgan fired low from a tight angle to nutmeg the goalkeeper. She tallied her 13th career goal as a mom, tied with Joy Fawcett for the most goals by a mother in USWNT history.

Swanson struck again two minutes later, this time following a quick counter by the U.S. in which midfielder Ashley Sanchez, who came on in the 61st minute, played a long ball from just past midfield to the sprinting Swanson on a run up the middle of the pitch. She took a touch to round the goalkeeper toward the left and finished from eight yards for her second of the night.

Williams added the finishing touch on the night just seven minutes after coming on as a substitute in the 74th minute. Rodman controlled the ball off a throw-in from the right side and sent a cross into the box to Williams. She rose above her defender to connect with a header, lobbing the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net. Williams earned her first cap since the team’s SheBelieves Cup matchup against Iceland on Feb. 23, 2022, making her first appearance for the USA in 329 days.

The USA finished the match with a 15-2 shot margin.

The USWNT will travel to Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau to face New Zealand at Eden Park, New Zealand’s National Stadium. Kickoff for match is 4 p.m. NZT on Jan. 21 (10 p.m. ET on Jan. 20; HBO Max, Universo and Peacock).