It wasn't easy, but the United States Women's National Team got their 2016 SheBelieves Cup off to a winning start by defeating England 1-0 in Tampa.
A very game Three Lionesses defense proved unbreakable in the first half, with Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan having one of the best chances when her shot off a cross from Mallory Pugh went wide. The 17-year-old Pugh made yet another start for the Stars and Stripes before being subbed off for Crystal Dunn in the 67th minute, and it was a great call by coach Jill Ellis.
Five minutes after coming on, Dunn dribbled to the top corner of the 18-yard box before smashing a shot past a diving Karen Bardsley. The golazo brought the Tampa women's soccer record crowd of 13,073 to their feet and secured the win for the U.S. -- the previous Tampa record was 9,000.
The game winner was goal number seven this year for Dunn, who is possibly the hottest player in the U.S. pool currently, and tied her with Carli Lloyd for most this season. Here's a look at the rocket:
Crystal. Dunn. pic.twitter.com/xZMjQzvjOj— Our Game Magazine (@OurGameMagazine) March 4, 2016
The win is the second consecutive 1-0 result for the USWNT against the World Cup third place finishers and puts the team on the right foot for a clash against France on March 6 in Nashville, TN.
In the first game of the Cup, Germany beat the French 1-0 at Raymond James Stadium in a match that kicked off before the U.S. game.
Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was an unused substitute in the match.