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USWNT pummel New Zealand 6-1 in second Olympic match

Colorado’s Lindsey Horan scores and earns her 100th cap with Team USA .

New Zealand v United States: Women’s Football - Olympics: Day 1 Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) head coach Vlatko Andonovski turned to his favorite lineup that included Lindsey Horan and Rose Lavelle as his team’s midfield wingers, as strong-arm center middie, Julie Ertz made her return to the starting XI.

The trio dominated the field and contributed mightily to the Lady Yanks’ punishing 6-1 victory over a backpedaling New Zealand side. Ertz shared two assists, Lavelle scored once, and Horan added another in her 100th game as a member of the USWNT. Both wings had second goals; however, they were called back on VAR-verified offside calls.

“I think my approach going into this game. Obviously, it’s in the back of your head that you’re getting your 100th cap, but I didn’t want that to be a factor today. I think we wanted to get the job done and my focus was doing whatever I possibly could to help the team win,” Horan said during her post-match interview from Japan’s Saitama Stadium. “I’m happy to get a goal and yeah, it’s nice to have a fan in the stands, too.”

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden was on hand to cheer Team USA on.

With the win, a reinvigorated U.S. side is back in the hunt to advance into the Quarterfinals. Just as important, the complete game boosts the overall mood and confidence after a lopsided 3-0 loss to an overwhelming Sweden team.

The Swedes cut down Australia, 4-2, in their second match and now have a firm grip on first place. They will next face New Zealand, while the Yanks will face off with the Matildas on Tuesday, July 27 at 1 a.m. MT in their last Group G game. A win or tie guarantees the USWNT a berth in the Quarterfinals. The USA could still potentially get through to knockout rounds even with a loss, via one of two third-place berths to the Quarterfinal play.

The U.S. currently sits in second place with three points and is tied with Australia, though with a better overall goal differential, which is the tournament’s first tiebreaker.

The U.S. will need to pick up where they left off against New Zealand. They have laid down a foundation and now need to build on it. It appears the team is still in Olympic-level synchrony. ”I still think we have a lot to give. This is just the start,” veteran striker Carli Lloyd said after the game. “It was a good response, good result, good goals. We can always learn, we can always get better, but this is a start in the right direction.”