By Chris Kaftan
PRAVETS, Bulgaria – The United States mounted a balanced attack on Great Britain using a combination of relentless offense and stingy defense to win, 5-0, in the women’s soccer semifinals Thursday at the Pravets Sports Complex.
Using a 4-4-2 scheme, the Americans used their speed in the forward and midfield positions to attack the British defense and create multiple scoring opportunities. The U.S. fired its first shot at the British goal just minutes into the game.
Left midfielder Julia Nelson scored the first goal (5’) of the game on a cross from Felicia Schroeder.
“Our goal today was to win,” said Yon Struble, head coach of the women’s team. “As long as they played their game, we had a chance to win.”
The U.S. maintained possession for more than 80 percent of the game, preventing Great Britain from handling the ball. Great Britain entered the American defense just five times in the game, as the defense led by Laura Yon Carlson and Anna Smither smothered the British offense from mounting any type of attack.
The American offense was led by the front four of Schroeder, Nelson, Liza Offreda and Heather Kennedy.
Kennedy scored the second U.S. goal (21’) on a Schroeder assist in the goalkeeper box.
“After the second goal, we settled in because we knew we had control of the game,” Schroeder said. “
The United States continued its offensive attack on the goal when Offreda fed Schroeder with a header (40’) into the goal.
Schroeder scored again (45’) when she received the ball from Smither, outran the British defender to set up a 1:1 with the goalkeeper, and fired one to the right of the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands and into the back of the net for a 4-0 lead.
Injuries to the British goalkeeper and offense forced the team to use all its allocated subs in the first half.
After halftime, the U.S. continued its control of the game, assisted by an Offreda goal (84’) from 30 yards out that sailed over the goalkeeper’s head and put the U.S. up, 5-0.
The United States maintained the tempo of the game throughout the second half, defusing any of the British advances into their end.
“We had an all-around good game,” said Meghan Maiwald, the U.S.’s goalkeeper and team captain. “We took advantage of opportunities to score and maintained good possession of the ball.”
“We were able to create many chances for goals, and we capitalized on those,” Schroeder said.
The United States plays Russia in the gold-medal match at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
The match will be a formidable one that features two of the top women soccer programs in the world.
The countries last played each other in the world deaf soccer championships last summer in Ankara, Turkey. The U.S. won the championship, 1-0.
In the Deaflympics, the U.S. blazed through pool play and the semifinals, scoring 25 goals and shutting out all four opponents. Russia has scored seven goals in these Deaflympics and defeated Great Britain, 2-0, earlier in the week.
“When it comes to our match against Russia, we need to follow the same blueprint,” Schroeder said. “We’ll make the necessary adjustments in our game to prepare [for Russia].”