The U.S. Women’s National Team is celebrating victories on two fronts today. The first, and most important, victory concerns the $24 million the team settled for in their equal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. That settlement was obviously a long time coming and well-deserved for a team that has reached the World Cup Finals each of the last three tournaments and outright won the championship twice in a row.
Their other, much smaller, victory revolves around the team’s 5-0 victory over New Zealand in the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday. However, what was a celebration for the U.S. Women’s National Team was a massive embarrassment for one member of the New Zealand team. Despite her team losing by a score of 5-0, Meikayla Moore led the match in goals with three. The only problem is that all three were sent into the back of her own net.
It didn’t take long for the own-goal onslaught to start. In just the fifth minute, the United States attempted to cross a ball into the middle. Moore stuck her leg out hoping she could deflect the ball out of bounds for a corner, but she miscalculated and her deflection went past New Zealand goaltender Erin Nayler. No big deal. Those things happen. You just have to let it pass and get your head back into the game. You have to do it quickly though. You can’t let a single minute pass where you’re still thinking about that mistake.
Less than a minute later, the United States were pushing forward on offense. Once again, the team tried to send a cross into the middle. Luckily for New Zealand, the intended target, US forward Margaret Purce whiffed on the header. She barely made contact and the ball was likely headed out of bounds. Unfortunately for New Zealand though, Moore was playing good defense. Moore was right behind Purce on the play and while she likely intended to head the ball out of bounds, Purce’s slight deflection altered the ball’s trajectory and thus, instead of lofting the ball out of bounds, Moore once again bounced the ball into her own net.
Fast-forward thirty minutes. Purce is dribbling into the box. She’s surrounded by New Zealand defenders. With just two other teammates near her, Purce sends a pass in their direction hoping that something magical will happen. Moore was in perfect position to intercept the pass. She tries to settle the ball on her left foot, but can’t quite corral it. It ricochets off her foot and into the New Zealand goal. It’s now 3-0 U.S. and all three goals have come off Moore. All Moore can do is put her hands on her legs. She slowly walks back to midfield, refusing to make eye contact with anyone. While the U.S. was obviously happy to extend their lead, their celebration was clearly lackluster compared to their two goals from earlier. You could tell, even they couldn’t begin to imagine what was going through Moore’s head.
The U.S. would go on to score twice more, both of which came off American feet. After the game, New Zealand head coach Jitka Klimková stated that the team was “all behind her in this tough moment.” Klimková continued, “She had a tough day in the office. Obviously, she’s sad and disappointed, but she’s an unbelievable person and player who belongs on this team.”
This was Moore’s 50th international appearance. She’s been through several ups, downs, heartbreaking losses, and thrilling victories, but I doubt any will resonate with her the way Sunday’s match did.
The SheBelieves Cup finishes tomorrow with a double-header as New Zealand takes on the Czech Republic, followed by the United States facing Iceland.