Purce and Moultrie lead USWNT past Dominican Republic, 5-0

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Moultrie scored two goals in her first USWNT start.

CARSON, Calif. — Midge Purce drove Olivia Moultrie to training when they played together for the Portland Thorns. Before and after sessions, they practiced on a turf field in Moultrie’s backyard. They practiced shooting, among other skills, developing a connection in the process.  

On Tuesday, Purce and Moultrie re-united on the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) and had a magical moment. 59 minutes into the match, Purce used a couple of shot fakes to shake a defender. Then, she found Moultrie for a tap-in finish.

The goal gave the USWNT a 3-0 lead, but it was special for both of them.

“That’s my little one,” Purce said. “I’m so proud of her.”

Purce had two assists, while Moultrie scored a brace for the USWNT in a decisive 5-0 victory over the Dominican Republic in their opening W Gold Cup match.

In the eighth minute, Purce strung together a series of dribbles to beat a defender, then passed the ball towards the center of the box, finding Sophia Smith, who tapped it to Moultrie, who scored. The goal gave the USWNT a 1-0 lead.

“We really challenged her as the game went on to continue to find space where she was instead of coming down below, and I think she accepted that challenge pretty well and made a difference,” said head coach Twila Kilgore about Moultrie. 

Purce was unstoppable all night. She dribbled past defenders easily on multiple occasions, like 30 minutes into the match, when she exhibited her skill by stringing together a series of moves to beat a defender. Then Purce crossed it to Williams in the box, who tapped it in. 

Williams would not be denied, doubling the USWNTs advantage, making the score, 2-0. 

67 minutes into the game, Trinity Rodman replaced Purce, Jaedyn Shaw came on Moultrie, and Alex Morgan entered for Smith. Their entries led to continued dominance for the USWNT as they added two goals in the final minutes. 

86 minutes into the match, Jenna Nighswonger buried a penalty in the bottom right corner of the goal, giving the USWNT a 4-0 lead.

“You actually saw Alex [Morgan] hand the ball the Jenna [Nighswonger], which was a good moment,” Kilgore said. And capitalizing is a really big thing.”

Then, in stoppage time, Morgan scored a penalty kick, putting it away in the bottom left corner of the net. Rodman made a run toward the goal line and was fouled, setting up Morgan’s penalty kick.

“I wouldn’t put Alex [Morgan] in that position if I didn’t have total confidence in faith that she was going to put those away,” Kilgore said.

It was a decisive win in the USWNT’s opening match despite a starting XI filled with players in various stages of their careers. Captaining the squad was 38-year-old Becky Sauerbrunn, while two players made their first starts: Korbin Albert and Moultrie.

“You’re chasing around people that are 20 years younger than you, but it’s just so much fun,” Sauerbrunn said. “You don’t really think about the numbers like that.

Albert came out firing, taking multiple shots from around the edge of the box. However, she could not convert on any of them. Her closest chance came late in the first half, but a defender deflected her shot off the crossbar. 

Next, the USWNT plays Argentina in their second Gold Cup match with a chance to build on their opening performance.

“I’m looking at our team, and the team is looking at me, and we understand that we need to be more ruthless and that there were opportunities and goals left on the table,” Kilgore said.