Smith youngest hat trick for US women since ’00 in 9-1 rout
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Sophia Smith became the youngest player in 22 years to score a hat trick for the U.S. women’s national team, which routed Uzbekistan 9-1 on Saturday and extended its unbeaten streak on American soil to 66 games.
Smith scored in the 33rd, 35th and 56th minutes. At 21 years, 242 days, she became the youngest American woman with an international hat trick since Christie Welsh at 19 years, 38 days in an 8-0 win over Iceland on April 5, 2000. Smith’s only previous national team goal was on Sept. 21 against Paraguay.
Andi Sullivan, Mallory Pugh, Catarina Macario, Jaelin Howell, Ashley Hatch and Ashley Sanchez also scored at Lower.com Field for the top-ranked U.S.
Aziza Norboeva scored for 48th-ranked Uzbekistan, the first goal the U.S. has conceded on home soil since March, 11, 2020, against Japan.
It was the first of two games between the teams. The second is set for Tuesday night in Chester, Pennsylvania.
“Obviously we have a lot more to do and a lot more to work on, but we’re happy with where we are, and we know that we have a lot of things to work on,” Smith said.
A series of three headers, from Lindsey Horan to Alana Cook to Sullivan for the goal, gave the United States the early lead in the 26th minute. Pugh scored just seconds later to make it 2-0. It was her 22nd international goal.
Smith added a pair of goals for the United States before the half to make it 4-0 and Uzbekistan was simply overwhelmed.
Macario scored early in the second half and Smith added her third goal in the 56th minute. Smith is the 20th player with a hat trick for the United States.
Howell added a goal for the Americans in the 64th, before Norboeva scored for Uzbekistan in the 70th to avoid the shutout. Hatch and Sanchez added late goals.
Coach Vlatko Andonovski praised Smith and the first-time scorers, Howell and Sanchez, ``but if there’s one thing that I remember is that we got scored on, and it’s something that we’re gonna address and talk about and work on going forward.”
The U.S. team was originally scheduled to play a team from Asia for the international break but that team had to pull out. Coronavirus and World Cup qualifying made finding a new opponent difficult.
Kelley O’Hara, the team’s most experienced player making her 151st appearance, wore the captain’s armband.
Two veterans, Becky Sauerbrunn and Megan Rapinoe, were left off the roster for the two games against Uzbekistan because of injury. Julie Ertz recently announced that she was expecting her first child, and Crystal Dunn is also pregnant.
Other veterans who weren’t with the team included Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Christen Press as Andonovski continued to emphasize young players in preparation for World Cup qualifying in July.
“This team is just so set on their standards, and they’re always trying to raise the standards with every with every group that comes through, Smith said. ”So I think just it’s a matter of keeping those standards and pushing them as high as we can and always trying to get better.”
The U.S. team’s unbeaten streak on American soil includes 59 wins and seven draws.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports