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USWNT, Australia battle to 1-1 draw in final friendly of 2021

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An unlucky deflection is the difference.

Australia v USA - International Friendly: Game 2 Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

The United States Women’s National Team settled for a 1-1 draw against Australia Tuesday at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle. A late deflected goal by the Matildas’ Kyah Simon proved to be the difference in a match where the USWNT once again focused on getting some much-needed experience for the younger players on the team.

Starting XI: 18-Casey Murphy; 23-Emily Fox (19-Imani Dorsey - 77’), 12-Tierna Davidson, 5-Alana Cook, 3-Sofia Huerta (14-Emily Sonnett - 86‘); 10-Lindsey Horan, 17-Andi Sullivan (4-Becky Sauerbrunn - 86‘), 16-Rose Lavelle; 6-Lynn Williams (8-Ashley Sanchez - 81’), 7-Ashley Hatch (13-Morgan Weaver - 70’), 11-Midge Purce (22-Kristie Mewis - 70’)

Unusued Subs: 1-Jane Campbell

The scoring got started in the 4th minute for the USWNT, once again by Ashley Hatch. After an Aussie turnover around midfield, Lynn Williams led a quick counter with a pass to a streaking Midge Purce, who collected it right on the endline. From there, she was able to find an open Ashley Hatch, who slotted it home for the opening goal.

It was the 2nd consecutive early goal for the NWSL’s Golden Boot winner against Australia. She opened up her international account in the first game against the Matildas last weekend with a goal after 24 seconds.

USWNT goalkeeper Casey Murphy, making her second straight start, continued to show quick reflexes between the posts. She was able to make a huge save in the 21st minute to keep the lead for the USWNT.

Both teams had chances in the first half, but the USWNT were the better team. Purce had a couple additional chances to add to the USWNT score total in the 1st half, but close misses kept the score 1-0 at the half.

Australia’s Sam Kerr provided some scary moments for the USWNT early in the 2nd half, with a couple scoring opportunities for the Matildas. One shot went wide for a goal kick, while the second one drew a corner kick.

Lynn Williams was incredible for the USWNT throughout the match. While she did not score a goal, she had the hockey assist on Hatch’s goal, and she had several moments where she was dangerous with the ball at her feet. In the early part of the second half, she had a beautiful curling shot on goal that Aussie goalkeeper Lydia Williams had to do well to send the ball wide for a corner kick.

There was a nervy time for the USWNT in the 68th minute, as Casey Murphy took an extra touch on a back pass and almost had the ball deflected into the goal by Aussie forward Hayley Raso.

The substitutes started to come on late for the USWNT, and in the 80th minute, one of them had a terrific chance on goal. Morgan Weaver, who subbed on for Ashley Hatch in the 70th minute, had a chance at a breakaway, but had the ball taken away by Aussie defender Steph Catley.

In the final 10 minutes, despite a lot of pressure, the USWNT were able to withstand the Aussie attack, providing some more scoring chances of their own. However, bad luck found its way to the back line super late in the match. In the 88th minute, Kyah Simon fired a shot that took a wicked deflection off substitute Becky Sauerbrunn that Casey Murphy had no chance of stopping, and the Matildas had the late equalizer.

In the 2nd minute of stoppage time, the USWNT thought they had the game winner, as Tierna Davidson fired a beautiful cross into the box that Lindsey Horan hammered home. However, Horan’s goal was rightfully called back for offside. Despite a final chance, the USWNT and Matildas settled for the draw.

The USWNT finish 2021 with 17 wins, 2 losses, and 5 draws. That included a SheBelieves Cup title and a bronze medal in the Olympics. In 2022, the focus will be on qualifying for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and the USWNT can enter the next year knowing that they have some incredible young players that just need the opportunities on the field to be great.