USWNT Wins 2nd Consecutive SheBelieves Cup

Rose Lavelle was the winner of the SheBelieves Cup MVP which is an award that is voted on.

Image/Graphics by Jamie Smed

Rose Lavelle was the winner of the SheBelieves Cup MVP which is an award that is voted on.

The SheBelieves Cup was founded by the United States in 2016 and is a four-team tournament that is held each year in the US. The SheBelieves Cup was created to help inspire young girls to reach their goals athletic or otherwise, and each year a committee decides on the SheBelieves Hero which is someone who is a leader and is working to make a difference. This year’s SheBelieves Hero will be announced shortly.

This tournament was held from February 18th to February 24th and the top teams invited to the tournament this year were Argentina, Brazil, and Canada. This epic showdown between the most elite competition in women’s soccer is vital for all players due to the Olympics being right around the corner. The SheBelieves tournament is set up with a four-team round-robin group play in which each team plays each other once. 

The USWNT vs. Canada was the second game of the tournament held at 7 PM on Thursday, February 18th. Brazil defeated Argentina with a 4-1 score to pick up the first win of the tournament earlier Thursday afternoon. The USWNT picked up their first win of the tournament defeating Canada 1-0. Despite the low score, the game was very exciting, with both teams getting many scoring opportunities. Canada presented a new challenge to the USWNT, and it took much of the first half for the USWNT to find their rhythm, especially in the final third of the game, where it seemed that the USWNT forced the ball too much. With numerous turnovers, Canada was able to create solid counterattacks that resulted in a vital save by goalkeeper, Alyssa Naeher, or a corner kick. Luckily, the USWNT was able to get some fresh legs with about 30 minutes left in the second half, including midfielder Rose Lavelle. It seemed like the USWNT got some new life in them, and had a lot more creativity moving forward with Lavelle and Christen Press in the game. Finally, in the 79th minute, Lavelle was able to volley one past the Canadian goalkeeper, putting the USWNT up 1-0 with just over ten minutes left in the game. The defense, led by center backs Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn, was able to fend off the last attacks made by Canada’s offense and hold off for a shutout. 

The next game, and most anticipated, was played between the USWNT and Brazil on Sunday afternoon. Unlike the first game, USWNT came out firing, keeping consistent pressure on the Brazilian back-line and goalkeeper. It didn’t take long for the USWNT to find a goal, as Lindsey Horan was able to play a ball to the feet of Press, who took a hard cut to the inside and fire a shot with her right foot to the back post just out of the Brazilian goalkeepers reach, scoring the first goal of the match only 11 minutes into the game. With the US up by one goal, momentum started to swing toward Brazil and one attack seemed extremely promising. Fortunately for the USWNT defender, Crystal Dunn was able to make a slide tackle saving a shot on goal by the Brazilian forward. Much of the game was back and forth with both teams making good attacks, and both teams were relying on their central midfield to control the game. Once again, the USWNT made substitutions around the 60th minute, including left forward Megan Rapinoe and center forward Carli Lloyd. Nearing the end of the game caused the USWNT some trouble as Brazil had many players going forward and a few shots on goal. But all that momentum stopped once Horan was able to get a ball on the right-wing and send a cross directly to the feet of Rapinoe, who was able to score with a right-footed volley. She celebrated by imitating cradling a baby and blowing a kiss to a camera to dedicate the goal to Sloane. Sloane is the adopted newborn baby of Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, both of the USWNT members that missed the camp in anticipation of their baby being born. The 2-0 win put the USWNT in first place heading into the final game of the SheBelieves Cup. Also on Sunday, Canada defeated Argentina with a score of 1-0. 

The final day of the SheBelieves Cup was Wednesday, February 24th. It began with Brazil getting a 2-0 win over Canada, and clinching a top-two finish. The USWNT only needed a win or tie in their final game against Argentina, and they certainly got the job done. The pressure by the USWNT was constant, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time until they would put one of their many opportunities on the scoreboard. Finally, in the 16th minute, Megan Rapinoe was able to get a ball in behind the backline and hammer a left-footed volley into the back of the net. Rapinoe was able to tally her third goal of the tournament just ten minutes after getting an easier ball across the middle off of a cross from Carli Lloyd. It seemed like Argentina was just unable to get solid possession and wasn’t able to get the ball forward. The USWNT was doing an excellent job at putting pressure on the ball right away which forced many turnovers in their attacking half. The USWNT was able to put up two more goals before the half ended, with Lloyd scoring in the 35th minute and Kristie Mewis scoring in the 41st minute. The second half was very similar to the first, with constant pressure by the USWNT and no attacking efforts made by the Argentina team. The USWNT was able to bring in six total subs including young players such as Jaelin Howell and Sophia Smith getting valuable experience. They were able to add two more goals by the end of the half, both coming late in the half. The first of the pair was scored by Alex Morgan, who was able to pass Michelle Akers on the USWNT All-Time Goal Scorers and move into 5th place with 108 goals. The final goal of the game came in the 88th minute and was scored from a header from Christen Press after receiving a ball across from Lindsey Horan. 

The USWNT won the SheBelieves Cup and became the first team to win back-to-back championships in the tournament’s history. Rose Lavelle was voted the SheBelieves Cup MVP this year for her performance throughout the tournament.