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November 8, 2013
U17 WNT lose in CONCACAF semis on pks

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica - The U.S. Under-17 Women's National Team will not qualify for the 2014 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup after falling to Mexico on penalty kicks in Thursday’s CONCACAF Women's U-17 Championship semifinal. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in regulation time.

The U.S. will face Jamaica in the third-place match on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. ET at the Montego Bay Sports complex.

After not surrendering a goal in an undefeated run through the group stage of the tournament, the U.S. U-17 WNT allowed Mexico forward Briana Woodall to score the opening goal of the semifinal in the fifth minute of the match. Madison Haley equalized for the USA in the 27th.

Despite dominating the run of play through the rest of the match, the U.S. was unable to make good on numerous chances against a Mexican team content to put numbers behind the ball and defend deep in their own territory. Per tournament regulations, no overtime was played and the match went right to penalty kicks where Mexico goalkeeper Emily Alvarado played the hero by saving a do-or-die penalty kick from U.S. defender Zoe Morse in the fourth round.

Mexico stunned the U.S. with an early opening goal. Monica Rodriguez sent a quick throw-in to Janae Gonzalez, whose looping cross found Woodall unmarked in the middle of the U.S. penalty area. The Mexico striker sent a header just beneath the crossbar and out of the reach of U.S. goalkeeper Lauren Rood.

Ten minutes later, Haley nearly tied the match after a powerful run took her through the heart of the Mexico defense, but Alvarado charged out to cut down the angle and forced Haley to roll her shot just wide of the left post. Haley went close again minutes later, but pushed a header just wide after Zoe Redei did well to gain the end line and sent in a cross.

Haley hauled the U.S. level in the 27th minute, tucking home her second goal of the tournament from the top of the six-yard box after Mallory Pugh sped past the Mexico defense on the left side and cut the ball back for her tailing strike partner.

Moments before halftime, the U.S. nearly went ahead when Haley nodded down a long ball for midfielder Anika Rodriguez at the back post, but her close-range shot was deflected by Alvarado across the goalmouth and just wide of the right post. Redei kept the ball in bounds and served it back into the box for Rodriguez who settled it for Haley, but the striker hit her shot wide.

Rood was rarely called into action for the U.S., but reacted well to save a Rebeca Bernal shot in the 58th minute after being penalized picking up the ball, putting it back on the ground and picking it up again, which handed Mexico an indirect free kick just outside the U.S. penalty area.

Although the USA dominated the run of play throughout the remainder of regulation, the team was unable to put away a smattering of chances against a determined Mexico team that took every opportunity to take time off the clock.

In penalty kicks, Bernal shot and scored first for Mexico, but Taylor Racioppi saw her effort saved to put the U.S. behind early. Eva Gonzalez and Miriam Garcia of Mexico then traded goals with the USA's Tegan McGrady and Pugh through the next two rounds.

In the fourth round of PKs, Rood was able to get her fingertips to Arlett Tovar's shot, but it was not enough to keep the ball out. With Mexico leading 4-2, Morse had her penalty kick saved by Alvarado, sending Mexico through to the final of the tournament, as well as the 2014 FIFA Women's Under-17 World Cup in Costa Rica.

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