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U.S. women’s national team plays to 1-1 draw against New Zealand

The United States Women’s National Team battled New Zealand to a 1-1 draw Wednesday in a Women’s International Friendly. Sydney Leroux tallied the lone goal for the U.S.

The U.S. started with a 4-3-3 formation for the first time under coach Tom Sermanni. The offense generated a lot of opportunities in the first half, and Leroux was able to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute.

“We wanted to pressure New Zealand; we wanted to matchup in midfield,” Sermanni said. “I think we weren’t quick enough to do things in transition today either, when we won the ball or when we lost the ball.”

Leroux did most of the work herself as she turned inside, eluding defenders and eventually finding an opening allowing her to finish into the left corner.

After leading for a majority of the second half, New Zealand stunned the U.S. with the equalizer in the 87th minute. Hannah Wilkinson received the ball from Rebekah Stott and slotted it past U.S. keeper Hope Solo to even things up.

After the game Leroux said she was disappointed that the U.S. were unable to hold on for the victory.

“Anytime the US Women’s National Team ties, it’s a loss for us,” Leroux said. “We’re very proud, we should’ve won and we’re going to be upset about this for awhile.”

Sermanni agreed, adding that he expected his team to dominate proceedings.

“We expect to win games, particularly at home, we expect to dictate and dominate games. We didn’t do that as well tonight as we have done with some of our games during the year,” Sermanni said.

The United States fired 12 total shots with five on goal, compared to six and four on target for New Zealand. Abby Wambach had a few chances that she couldn’t capitalize on, including a penalty kick in the 10th minute that was saved by Erin Nayler.

American superstar Alex Morgan was unavailable as a result of an ankle injury she suffered in a recent training session.

“It’s disappointing for this team if ever we tie or lose. It’s a complete failure of producing what the game plan was,” Wambach said.

More than 15,000 supporters attended the match. As always, it was a great atmosphere in Columbus, Solo said.

“Columbus is awesome. We’re filling stadiums from the west coast all the way to the east coast,” Solo said. “We have passion here. Women’s soccer is here to stay.”

The US Women’s national team travels to Florida to play Brazil next, which will cap off the 2013 season. World Cup qualifying matches begin in 2014.

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