U.S. Under-20s Down Ghana, 4-0 in WWC Opener

Aug. 20, 2012

Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer

HIROSHIMA, Japan - The U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team opened play at the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup with a 4-0 victory against Ghana at the Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium as forward Maya Hayes scored a second half hat-trick.

Germany defeated China, 4-0, in the second match of the evening meaning the Americans and Germans are tied atop Group D on points, goal difference and goals scored.

ALSO SEE: UCLA's Rosie White scores in New Zealand's 2-1 victory over Switzerland. Recap HERE.

Hayes' true hat-trick increased her international goals total at the U-20 level to 15 while the U.S. also benefited from an own goal in the 20th minute. The hat trick was the 10th for U.S. player in a FIFA World Cup at all levels and fifth for a female player, following Carin Gabarra and Michelle Akers (five goals) in the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup in China, Kelly Wilson in the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup in Canada and Sydney Leroux in the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany.

The USA will next face China PR at 5:50 a.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 23. The match will be broadcast live on ESPNU and ESPN3. Fans can also follow the match on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.

The match was played in sweltering temperatures that reached the high 80s and the young Americans started the game with a touch of nerves. Ghana's Florance Dadson had the game's first two shots, including one on goal in the fourth minute and created a near breakaway two minutes later. U.S. captain Julie Johnston was able to scramble back and disrupt Dadson's run, causing her to shoot wide.

The USA then settled down and played some excellent ball-possession soccer the rest of the way against a talented Ghanaian team that featured eight players from the side that tied the USA 1-1 in the opening game of the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.

The USA's first legitimate scoring threat came in the 20th minute off a corner kick from the left side as Vanessa DiBernardo's service found Morgan Brian, who skied over the pack of players to drill her header off the crossbar. The ball deflected down into the goal box, bounced off the leg of Ghana defender Linda Addai and ended up in the net.

Ghana goalkeeper Patricia Mantey made some clutch saves in the first half to keep things tight, including diving to her right to put a glove on Brian's volley in the 28th minute, and then pushed away a solid Chioma Ubogagu strike to her left in the 36th minute.

In the 41st minute, Ubogagu beats Mantley to through ball in the penalty box and dance around her, but with the Ghana `keeper caught way out of her goal, she sliced her shot at open net wide left from a tough angle at about 16 yards out.

The USA got its second goal at the perfect time - just five minutes into the second half - as Hayes scored her first off a header to make it 2-0. Right winger Kealia Ohai dribbled in from the flank just inside the penalty area and crossed to Hayes, who got in front of Ghana defender Rosemary Ampem and clinically directed the ball past Mantey.

Two substitutes combined to set up Hayes for her second goal and the team's third when Katie Stengel ran onto a throw-in from the right near the end line. Stengel looped in a cross that was flicked on by the head of Samantha Mewis, who was making a run straight up the middle. The ball bounced past a defender to Hayes who easily bounced her shot into the corner from six yards out to make it 3-0.

Hayes completed her trifecta in the second minute of stoppage time after she ran onto a through ball from Mewis and chipped over Mantey, who had gone low in an attempt to block the shot.

The teams had 13 shots each, but none of Ghana's troubled U.S. goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin as they were all from distance. Heaberlin made three saves for the USA while coming off her line well to cut off through balls, and benefited from a back line that didn't let the speedy Ghanaians get free over the 90 minutes.

Scoring Summary:
USA - Own goal (Linda Addai) - 20
USA - Maya Hayes (Kealia Ohai) - 50
USA - Maya Hayes (Samantha Mewis) - 74
USA - Maya Hayes (Samantha Mewis) - 90+2

USA: 1-Bryane Heaberlin; 4-Crystal Dunn, 15-Kassey Kallman, 8-Julie Johnston (capt.), 2-Mollie Pathman; 16-Sarah Killion (13-Samantha Mewis, 72), 10-Vanessa DiBernardo, 6-Morgan Brian (14-Mandy Laddish, 81); 7-Kealia Ohai, 5-Maya Hayes, 9-Chioma Ubogagu (12-Katie Stengel, 61)
Subs not used: 3-Cari Roccaro, 11-Becca Wann, 17-Taylor Schram, 18-Abby Smith, 19-Stephanie Amack, 20-Kelly Cobb, 21-Jami Kranich
Head Coach: Steve Swanson

GHA: 1-Patricia Mantey; 3-Grace Adams, 4-Cynthia Yiadom (14-Faustina Ampah, 90), 5-Rosemary Ampem, 7-Linda Addai, 6-Mercy Myles (capt.), 8-Elizabeth Addo, 10-Priscilla Saahene (13-Jennifer Cudjoe, 70), 9-Alice Danso (19-Candice Osei-Agyemang, 70), 18-Beatrice Sesu, 20-Florance Dadson
Subs not used: 2-Rebecca Asante, 11-Deborah Afriyie, 12-Janet Egyir, 15-Mary Essiful, 16-Nana Asantewaa, 17-Veronica Appiah, 21-Margaret Otoo
Head Coach: Robert Sackey

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