Pugh inspires teammates


THE US might be three-time Under-20 women’s soccer World Cup champions and among the pre-tournament favourites, yet they boast one of the youngest attacks at Papua New Guinea 2016.
Leading the line in their 3-1 win over New Zealand was 17-yearold Ashley Sanchez supported by 18-year-old pair Emily Fox and Mallory Pugh.
Indeed, so young are the trio, all three will still be eligible for selection when the 2018 edition of the U20 World Cup comes around.
Each have varying degrees of experience. Sanchez captained USA at the recent U17 World Cup.
Pugh is already an established member of the senior national team squad, even scoring at the recent women’s Olympic football tournament in Rio.
Fox, conversely, is just a few days into her first World Cup experience on the world stage.
The focal point of the attack, and indeed the team, is Pugh.
A powerful and skilful attacker with a blistering shot, Pugh has already achieved much in her still fledgling career.
She made her senior international debut aged just 17 — the youngest player for the Stars and Stripes in 11 years — and promptly scored her maiden goal.
Sanchez and Pugh scored within eight minutes against New Zealand, as USA made a perfect start.
The pair worked in concert with Fox for what would have been the goal of the match, only for Sanchez’s final effort to strike the post.
Little wonder then that Pugh’s still raw team-mates are revelling in the chance to play alongside their
well-known captain.
“I love playing with her,” Sanchez said. “It is easy to play with her and I think we are similar players. I feel like her runs and movements are really good and we look for each other and work well with each other.”
Fox is similarly enthusiastic about the team captain.
“It is amazing seeing her dribble through everybody and blast shots from all over the place,” Fox said. “ It is great to be able to look up to her, and be able to train with her, and she gives that role-model aspect.”
And Fox is equally enjoying her experience off the field, where the warm reception offered by the Papua New Guineans has been reciprocated.
“On the bus, we love waving to all the PNG people and saying hi to them. They all wave back to us. That is one of those extra little things that I have really enjoyed.” – FIFA.com.

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