Eden Park will serve as the USA’s venue for the first and third Group E matches at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
A brace from midfielder Rose Lavelle, who captained the USA after forward Alex Morgan was a late scratch during warm-ups due to lower leg tightness, led the way as forwards Ashley Hatch and Mallory Swanson as well as midfielder Taylor Kornieck also added goals.
As it did during its 4-0 victory on Jan. 18 in Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-tara, the USA controlled the pace in the first half, owning 73 percent of possession while denying the hosts of any shots. After a handful of chances including an early warning shot from Swanson in the second minute, the USA opened the scoring in the 22nd after Rodman played Hatch in on goal with a great curling cross on the ground from the left wing. The ball eluded a retreating defender and rolled into the path of Hatch, who finished with a first-time shot into the lower right corner from about 12 yards out.
The USA nearly doubled their lead four minutes later, but New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler came up with a brilliant save to deny midfielder Ashley Sanchez from point-blank range. The USA continued knocking at the door until Lavelle finished off a great cross from defender Sofia Huerta from the right side of the field with a volley from 10 yards out to double the lead.
The U.S., which played fast and launched waves of attacks against the packed Ferns defenders for the entire 90 minutes, came out even stronger in the second half, creating some immediate threats in the hosts’ final third until Swanson added her name to the scoresheet in the 53rd minute, burying a rebound of Rodman’s shot that came off the leg of a New Zealand defender.
Just nine minutes later, Lavelle struck again as Kornieck played a clever ball over the top from near midfield to find forward Lynn Williams out wide on the left side. Williams sent a cross into the box for Lavelle to finish with a left-footed volley from five yards out. It only took six minutes for the 6-foot-1 Kornieck to add the finishing touch on the match as she headed home a corner kick from the right side from Lavelle.
The U.S. continued to apply pressure, creating a few more chances as New Zealand battled fiercely. When all was said and done, the USA posted 22 shots and 10 on target while denying the hosts of any shots at all.
Nayler played an excellent game in nets for the Ferns, making several spectacular saves late to keep the score down and have five total stops.