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U.S. U-17 Women’s Youth National Team takes on Host India in the 2022 World Cup

By J.J. Pavlick 10/11/22

The United States entered the match as a huge favorite to win and they did not disappoint the fans in India or at home. In front of a crowd of 4,100 fans, the U.S. wasted no time setting the pace for the match. From the opening whistle they dominated every aspect of the game, their passing was on target and with the purpose to break down the India side. Only 6’ into the match and the U.S. push their defensive line, up past midfield. They quickly earned the first corner kick of the game a few minutes later. The corner is taken, and the cross is headed out by India’s Nitu for another corner. A minute later the U.S. would get on the board, the corner kick was played short, and Riley Jackson took the ball down the right side of the pitch and placed a perfect cross into the middle of the box, Melina Rebimbas wasted no time blasting the ariel pass into the lower left side of the goal. She struck the volley with one touch and gave her side the lead, the east coast connection quickly put them up and they never looked back. The U.S. wasted no time and in the 15’ they scored their 2nd goal of the match off a corner kick by Jackson, she placed it right on the head of Charlotte Kohler, who placed it perfectly down the middle of the goal just under the crossbar from four yards out. The strong U.S. side would go on to score 3 more times before halftime. The youth squad is playing top-notch soccer in the opening match of the Youth Women’s World Cup. The remaining 3 goals came quickly, in the 23’ Onyeka Gamero picked the defender’s pocket and fired a rocket into the lower right corner, the shot was taken near the penalty spot and the goalkeeper stood no chance. Melina Rebimbas wasted no time getting her brace in the 30th minute, once again the east coast connection played a role in the goal. Jackson sent a bender into the box, India thought they had it played right, but the defender played the ball right to Rebimbas, top of the box she placed her shot just under the upper 90 of the far post. Nine minutes later Gisele Thompson makes a great cut inside the box, settles the ball 12 yards out, and fires home the goal past the diving India goalkeeper at the near post. Giving the United States a dominating 5 – 0 lead in the opening match for them. The U.S. would continue to pressure India for the remainder of the 1st half but did not add to the score line.

In the 2nd half of the match, the United States continued to dominate the India squad poetically. Just under a minute into the half, Oneyeka Gamero fires off a blistering shot that is saved by the Indian goalkeeper Anjali Munda. The squad from India makes a few substitutions in the 48’, bringing on Naketa Babina Devi and Sudha Tirkey, coming off Purnima Kumari Shilky Devi and Nitu Linda. A few minutes later the U.S. makes a few substitutions as well bringing on Nicola Fraser, Mia Bhut, and Jordyn Bugg, Coming off Cameron Roller, Gisele Thompson, and Riley Jackson. The new subs did not waste any time making an impact on the game. In the 50’ the U.S. earns a corner kick, Mia Bhuta takes the corner kick, she finds her teammate Ella Emri with a picture-perfect cross into the back of the box, Ella goes up unmarked and delivers a blistering header into the upper 90 of the back post. The goal comes in the 51’ and gives the U.S. a 6-0 lead which ties the largest margin of victory for the U.S. side which they set in the 2012 World Cup against Gambia. There was still plenty of time for this team to break that record and then some. That moment almost came in the 55’ when Taylor Suarez found herself open in the front of the goal, unfortunately, the ball hit her thigh and rolled out over the goal line for a goal kick. Minutes later Charlotte Kohler is taken down in the box by India’s Kajal. Taylor Suarez would step up to take the penalty kick and she made no mistakes; she buried the penalty kick into the lower left corner past the diving goalkeeper. The goal gave the U.S. a 7-0 lead and set a record for the largest margin of victory for the youth team. In the 62’ Mia Bhuta would put the final dagger into the India team. She fired a scorching shot from twenty-five yards out into the upper 90 of the right post. Her goal not only set in stone the largest margin of victory for the U-17 youth team, but it was also a painful reminder to the India team that she could have been one of them. You see Mia’s dad was born in Mumbai, India, which made her eligible to play for India had she chosen to. Unfortunately for India, the young star decided to play for the United States where she is an early admission student at Stanford University in this coming January. She graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in Mt. Lebanon, PA. She is also the 1st player of Indian descent to play for the United States Soccer Federation. Her dad moved to the United States when he was just 16 years old, he came over as an exchange student and lived in New York. He went on to attend Mercyhurst college where he met Mia’s mom who was from Pittsburgh, PA. The couple got married and settled in Mt. Lebanon and the rest has been history.

The U.S. team would continue to dominate the game and move to more of a ball control playstyle while mixing in a few more shots on goal. India made two more subs during the half the first came in the 63’ Shailja replaced Lynda Kom and in the 70’ Varshika replaced Anita Kumari. The United States brought on Emeri Adames for Ella Emri in the 75’ and the 81’ Ella Sanchez came on for Charlotte Kohler. The match ends in 90’ +3’ of the second half, securing the largest victory in U.S. Women’s youth soccer. After the match, senior team player Megan Rapinoe who was impressed by the young Indian American Mia Bhuta shared a story on her Instagram account. When Bhuta was asked if she had seen the post she said, “It was Crazy” “I’ve never met her, but I’ve always looked up to her, and she’s someone who not only I would aspire to want to be on the field, but off the field too.” Her composure during the zoom meeting with the media was jaw-dropping, she was so composed for someone so young and in such a high-pressure situation. She showed why Stanford University accepted her early admission and why she will be a force to reckon with on and off the pitch for them. The decisive victory by the United States shows the world this country is going to be a force to deal with for a long time. The team plays again on Friday, October 14 at 7 a.m. ET against Brazil.

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