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  • Writer's pictureMichaela Alfano

The United States Women's National Team wins the 2022 She Believes Cup with a 5-0 win over Iceland

The United States Women's National Team placed Iceland in the final match of the She Believes Cup to determine the tournament winner. Both teams had a successful tournament with Iceland beating the Czech Republic 2-1 and New Zealand 1-0 throughout the duration. The US drew 0-0 against a defensive Czech Republic then went on to beat the New Zealand Ferns 5-0. The United States had trouble converting, getting multiple chances that were just missed while Iceland had a difficult time trying to find those spots to score because of heavy defenses from their opponents. However, going into this match the Americans needed to win in order to clinch the She Believes Cup title. The United States needed to come into this game a lot cleaner in front of the goal in order to convert the chances they were able to create. While Iceland needed to stay tight defensively to keep the United States from creating the chances in the first place as well as scoring their own.


The game started off looking good for both teams who were sharp with collecting the ball and pushing up the field. The first attempt for the US side came from a beautiful ball from Ashely Sanchez, Washington Spirit midfielder, to Mallory Pugh just missing the net, sailing over the crossbar. In the first ten minutes of the match Iceland was able to push up the field, getting into the box with a ball falling right at Casey Murphy. In the 14’ minute of the match, Catarina Macario sent a beautiful free kick into the box but Sandra Siguroardottir was there to punch it away. In the 15’ the US kept the pressure in the box with several attempts to get shots off but Iceland was able to deflect the ball and keep it out of the box. The best attempt came from Emily Fox with a shot just barely sailing over the crossbar.


The matchup between Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir of Iceland and Fox of the United States was one to watch in just the first 20 minutes of the match. Jónsdóttir was able to get on the ball but Fox was there to box her out of scoring opportunities.


A corner kick in the 21’ was the best opportunity Iceland was able to get on the board in the opening part of the game. Casey Murphy was able to reach up and collect the ball from the air before anyone could get their head on it.


In the 22’ Pugh had a perfect run and an open opportunity at the goal but her first touch was just a bit too heavy with the defender coming up behind her, sending it just wide of the goal. Again in the 26’ Sanchez passed a perfect ball to Mewis, who had an excellent first touch but a slight touch from Siguroardottir was able to send it just wide.


Iceland was able to find a moment of danger with Agla Maria Albertsdottir getting around Kelley O’Hara however, Emily Fox was able to make a big clearance in the box to stop anyone from getting on top of it. Another good chance for the United States came just moments later from Tierna Davidson finding a perfect slip ball through to Kristie Mewis but ultimately it was unable to hit the back of the net.


Photo Courtesy of @brfootball Twitter

Catarina Macario was able to score in the 37’ with a beautiful curling ball that bounced off the post into the back of the net, sending the United States up 1-0. With a quick glance she was able to release the ball marking her 4th international goal, and first for the She Believes tournament.



Another dangerous free kick for Iceland came in 41’ but Murphy was yet again able to collect it in the air before anything could come from it. Iceland has been super dangerous on set pieces whether corners or right outside the box, being incredibly physical to get the goals. On more than one occasion, the Icelandic side set up multiple players around Murphy to limit her ability to collect the ball in the air, something that she leans onto because of her height.


In the 45’ Macario was able to add her second goal, off a recovered ball from Pugh. She gracefully chipped it into the back of the net to send the team up 2-0. Going into the half the US


At the start of the second half Iceland made a substitution for their goalkeeper bringing on eighteen year old Cecilía Rúnarsdóttir of Bayern Munich. The second half started with a quick chance for the US side but Andi Sullivan, a commanding force in the midfield, passed into a player, deflecting it out. A quick ball from Sophia Smith gave their first shot on target in the second half but it rolled right to the hands of Rúnarsdóttir.


In the 51’ a chip from Macario was sent in and deflected off an Icelandic player, but neither Smith or Pugh, both there, were able to get a foot on it leaving the score 2-0. On several occasions Iceland was able to get possession of the ball although the US was able to force turnovers each time.


A series of corner kicks in the 55’ came for the Icelandic side and after some bouncing around in the box Pugh was able to clear it. Just a few minutes later Sanchez was able to work around two defenders to take a shot on goal. The shot fell directly to Rúnarsdóttir who was able to collect it and send it back out for Iceland. Sanchez was incredible throughout the game, assisting two of the goals, creating many chances, and getting around spaces with multiple defenders to pass the ball.


Mallory Pugh finally got the goal she had spent all game looking for in the 59’ with a perfectly slide pass into the back of the net just behind the keeper. Her goal put the United States up 3-0 with 30 minutes left of play. Pugh added her second in the 75’ of the match, a beautiful pass series from Pugh to Macario then back to Pugh led to the ball in the back of the net.


In the 79’ both teams made subs, with the USWNT subbing the full front line bringing in Midge Purce, Lynn Williams, and Ashley Hatch to close out the match. Iceland also subbed in Elisa Vidarsdottir, Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir, and Alexandra Jóhannsdóttir. A few minutes later the US rounded out their substitutions with Jaelin Howell, Emily Sonnett, and Becky Sauerbrunn entering the match for the final minutes and stoppage time.


The 88’ minutes added the fifth goal on a shot from Gotham FC midfielder Krisite Mewis. The assist came from her fellow Gotham teammate Midge Purce who passed it right to the foot of Mewis who easily slotted it in.


A final chance for Iceland came in the 90’ of play with a free kick that sailed right over the heads of all the players. They followed up with a second free kick and a corner kick but nothing was able to come from any of them.


The 5-0 final score of the match gave the US their fifth She Believes Cup title in the seven years of the tournament. The win keeps the United States undefeated and not scored on home soil in their last 17 matches. Catarina Macario was the standout for this match who created chances consistently, and scored two goals to give the United States a lead with beautiful curling balls. Macario also assisted both of the goals by Mallory Pugh who was all over the field alongside Sophia Smith. Emily Fox and Ashley Sanchez were also standouts in this tournament with youth solidly holding down their positions. Alana Cook and Tierna Davidson were calm and collected in the backline, even when faced with pressure. The future of this team is bright.


The She Believes MVP was awarded to Catarina Macario with two goals and assists this tournament. She becomes the youngest player to receive this award in the seven years of the cup. Macario played in all three games, starting in the central forward position to create momentum, plays and goals.


Mallory Pugh went on to talk about Macario saying,"She just sees the game so well and knows exactly what to do"

Her sentiment was shared by Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski who talked about no matter where Cat is she can make something happen. Nominated alongside her were U.S. forward Sophia Smith, Iceland midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdóttir and Czech Republic goalkeeper Barbora Votíková who all had their own incredible runs this tournament.

Photo Courtesy of @USWNT on Twitter


After Macario scored her second goal she flashed the tape on her wrist that said “Protect Trans Kids'', a sentiment that multiple players were representing tonight, including Becky Sauerbrunn, Andi Sullivan, and Krisite Mewis. The team is playing in Frisco, Texas, a state that just announced a new anti-trans bill that makes it not a safe place for a trans kid, or someone who even supports trans children. Before the game Captain Becky Sauerbrunn tweeted about the new bill with a link to Equality Texas who is fighting this bill.


You can support trans kids in Texas by supporting and donating to EqualityTexas. You can also contact the office of Greg Abbott to take a stand against this action.

Support and Protect Trans Kids.


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