Lloyd hat trick lifts U.S. women past Mexico to cusp of Olympic berth

Lloyd hat trick lifts U.S. women past Mexico to cusp of Olympic berth

U.S. Women's National Team

Lloyd hat trick lifts U.S. women past Mexico to cusp of Olympic berth

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USWNT_SB_20120124_Carli Lloyd Lauren Cheney_105

Photo by Stephen Brashear/ISIphotos.com

They might have been held to single digits on the scoreboard for the first time during the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, but the U.S. women remain on a roll.

Carli Lloyd netted a hat trick, and the U.S. women's national team exacted a bit of revenge on Mexico, capturing Group B with a 4-0 victory at BC Place and setting up semifinal bout with Group A runner-up Costa Rica. The winner of Friday's match will clinch one of the region's two berths at this summer's Olympics. 

It was Mexico that defeated the U.S. women in the build-up to the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and forced them into a tougher qualifying path. The United States returned the favor, forcing Mexico to face host Canada for the region's other Olympic berth. Pia Sundhage's women continued their trend of getting off to a quick start, as Lloyd and Heather O'Reilly scored in the seventh and eighth minutes, respectively, to ease any early tension. 

Lloyd finished off her hat trick in the second half, heading home a Lauren Cheney free kick in the 57th minute and finishing off a squared ball from Rachel Buehler from six yards out off another set piece in the 86th minute.  

Highlights of the goals and post-match reaction from the U.S. women are after the jump:

NOTES

  • Lloyd has scored in all three games this tournament, tallying five goals in all. With her assist, Cheney has a tournament-best six helpers.
  • Following a 14-0 win over the Dominican Republic and a 13-0 victory over Guatemala, the U.S. women outscored their opponents 31-0 in the group stage. 
  • Costa Rica, meanwhile, went 2-1-0 in the group stage, defeating Cuba and Haiti by matching 2-0 scorelines before being blown out by Canada, 5-1, on Monday.
  • Goalkeeper Hope Solo picked up a right quadriceps injury during the game but played all 90 minutes. According to the Associated Press, she expects to be ready for Friday's match. If she cannot go, backup Nicole Barnhart would get the call.

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