Alyssa Naeher makes 3 saves in shootout as United States edges Canada for SheBelieves Cup title

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United States' Alyssa Naeher makes a save against Canada during the shoot out of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Alyssa Naeher made three saves in a penalty shootout and converted her own attempt to lead the United States past Canada Tuesday night in the final of the SheBelieves Cup, the Americans' fifth straight title in the event.

The U.S. won the shootout 5-4 after the rivals played to a 2-2 draw in regulation. Emily Fox scored the decisive goal in the seventh round of the shootout after Naeher stopped Evelyne Viens.

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Sophia Smith scored both U.S. goals. Her first tied the game at 1-all in the 50th minute. Her second put the Americans ahead 2-1 in the 68th off a cross from Trinity Rodman, who was subbed in only minutes before.

Adriana Leon scored twice for Canada. She made it 1-0 in the 40th minute, and tied the game at 2-all when she converted a penalty in the 86th.

The United States leads the all-time series with Canada 54-4-8. The previous meeting was last month in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, with the Americans advancing to the final on penalties after a rain-soaked 2-2 draw. Naeher also made three saves and converted a penalty in that match.

“It's just incredible to watch and be here live, and know how prepared she is," interim U.S. coach Twila Kilgore said. “I mean, she is prepared for every PK she could possibly face.”

The SheBelieves Cup matches were the last for the team under Kilgore. Emma Hayes is set to take over for the next two games on the schedule, exhibitions against South Korea in June. Kilgore will remain on Hayes’ staff.

Kilgore led the team to a 10-1-3 record after taking over for Vlatko Andonovski, who departed after the U.S. was eliminated in the round of 16 at the Women's World Cup last summer.

“I just think this team needed to regroup a little bit and focus on the things we felt would get us ready (for the Olympics) and get back to who we really are, get back to our DNA and also make sure that we’re evolving,” Kilgore said. “This team really wanted to evolve. Everything you see on the pitch is all credit to the players.”

Canada’s opening SheBelieves Cup match against Brazil also ended with a penalty shootout.

“In penalties we have a thorough process,” Canada coach Bev Priestman said. “At the end of the day, when you’ve got a full stadium cheering for the goalkeeper you’re going up against, nerves can be affected no matter what the staff say and what they do in training.”

Mallory Swanson, who started the United States' 2-1 victory over Japan in the SheBelieves opener on Saturday, came on as a substitute to start the second half. Swanson was sidelined for a year after injuring her patellar tendon during an exhibition against Ireland last year. The injury kept her out of the World Cup.

Naomi Girma did not play after she was subbed off in the first half of the opener with an apparent thigh injury.

Korbin Albert made her second straight appearance as a substitute following a controversy over past social media posts. The 20-year-old, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, had reposted anti-LGBTQ+ content on her TikTok account. She apologized when the posts came to light.

Brazil took third place, beating Japan 3-0 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in the earlier match at Field. Goalkeeper Lorena saved all three penalty attempts by Japan.

All four teams that played in the SheBelieves Cup have qualified for the Paris Olympics this summer.


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