SAN DIEGO (AP) _ There was some old and a new for the United States women soccer team in its win over Ireland.
Carli Lloyd scored three goals to help the U.S. defeat Ireland 5-0 in an international friendly on Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium. It was the Americans’ final match before next month’s CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament for the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Alex Morgan, playing in her 100th match with the national team, and 17-year-old Mallory Pugh, making her debut, also scored.
“I’ve looked up to these players for so long and to be able to play with them is just an honor,” Pugh said.
The match capped a 17-day training camp for the U.S. as it must trim its roster from 26 to 20 players. The team is in transition, with seven players from the World Cup-winning squad absent because of retirement, injuries and a pregnancy.
“I said to my staff it’s going to be a long night,” coach Jill Ellis said. “We’re locked in with 14, 15 players but at this point we have a couple more decisions to make.”
Lloyd, who had a hat trick in last summer’s World Cup final against Japan, made it 3-0 with her last goal in the 28th minute when she sprinted free from the Irish defenders and sent a shot past goalkeeper Emma Bryne. It was the 2015 FIFA women’s player of the year’s 19th goal in her last 14 matches.
“There are a lot of fresh faces out there and it’s refreshing,” Lloyd said. This was a great time for the younger players to get some confidence.’’
Morgan was honored before the game for becoming the 34th female player to appear in 100 matches for the U.S. She extended the lead to 4-0 by scoring her 57th career goal in the 45th minute.
Morgan also took note of the influx of young talent.
“The average age of our team has declined dramatically since the World Cup,” she said.
Hope Solo was in goal for the shutout and didn’t make her first save until the 66th minute.
The U.S. is attempting to become the first team to win the World Cup and the Olympics in consecutive years.
The Americans took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute when Lloyd scored off a nifty crossing pass from Morgan. It was Lloyd’s 80th career goal, as she became only the sixth American to reach that milestone.
Lloyd made it 2-0 in the 21st with a putback header, after Morgan’s header was blocked by Byrne. Lloyd collided with defender Louise Quinn when scoring the goal and was slow to rise after being knocked down.
Lloyd, who led the U.S. with 18 goals last year, briefly left the match before being cleared by the team’s medical staff. After the game, she was sporting a swollen lip.
“She is doing fine,” Ellis said. “We wouldn’t have put her back in there if there was any doubt.”
There’s no question Lloyd isn’t resting on her stellar season.
“I’m still on a mission,” she said. “I’m not going to stop trying to get better. Some people want to see me go backward and I’m not going to let that happen. I’m going to keep getting better and making the team better.”
Pugh, the youngest American to score in more than 16 years, hoped to make her Monday morning high school class — U.S. government — in Denver.
“It’s such a huge honor for all this to happen to me,” she said.