Rose Lavelle scored twice and set up another goal. (USA TODAY Sports)
The U.S. women’s national team recorded its second win in as many games against New Zealand as the Americans recorded a 5-0 victory at Eden Park in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau in front of 12,721 fans on Saturday.
It was the largest crowd to watch the New Zealand women’s on home soil.
Eden Park will serve as the USA’s venue for the first and third Group E matches at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
A brace from midfielder Rose Lavelle, who captained the USA after forward Alex Morgan was a late scratch during warm-ups due to lower leg tightness, led the way. Forwards Ashley Hatch and Mallory Swanson and midfielder Taylor Kornieck added goals.
As it did during its 4-0 victory on Jan. 18 in Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-tara, the USA controlled the pace in the first half, owning 73 percent of possession while denying the hosts any shots.
After a handful of chances including an early warning shot from Swanson in the second minute, the USA opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after Rodman played Hatch in on goal with a fine curling cross on the ground from the left wing. The ball eluded a retreating defender and rolled into the path of Hatch, who finished with a first-time shot into the lower right corner from about 12 yards.
The USA nearly doubled its lead four minutes later, but New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler came up with a brilliant save to deny midfielder Ashley Sanchez from point-blank range. The USA continued knocking at the door until Lavelle finished off a cross from defender Sofia Huerta from the right side of the field with a volley from 10 yards for a two-goal margin.
The U.S., which played fast and launched waves of attacks against the packed Football Ferns defenders for 90 minutes, came out even stronger in the second half, creating some immediate threats in the hosts’ final third until Swanson added her name to the scoresheet in the 53rd minute. Swanson buried a rebound of Rodman’s shot that came off the leg of a defender.
Only nine minutes later, Lavelle struck again as Kornieck played a ball over the top from near midfield to find forward Lynn Williams out wide on the left side. Williams sent a cross into the box for Lavelle to finish with a left-footed volley from five yards. It only took six minutes for the 6-1 Kornieck to add the finishing touch on the match as she headed home a corner kick from the right side from Lavelle.
The U.S. attempted 22 shots and 10 on target while denying the hosts of any shots.
Nayler played an excellent game in nets for the Ferns, making several spectacular saves late to keep the score down and have five saves.
The USA gets together next stateside for the February FIFA International window when it will host the eighth annual SheBelieves Cup. This year’s tournament will run from Feb. 16-22 as Brazil, Canada and Japan join the USA for the four-team international tournament with games hosted in Orlando, Nashville and Frisco, Texas.