PATH TO THE CUP — The final round of group stage play saw teams playing for points, positioning and pride, setting up a Round of 16 knockout stage for the ages at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
That includes several players from local club Utah Royals FC.
Here’s how the sextet of Royals fared in the final game of the tournament for some.
Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara & Christen Press, United States
Utah Royals defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara featured in the same starting lineup for the first time of the tournament in the United States' 2-0 win over Sweden to clinch first place in Group F.
Royals teammate Christen Press also made an appearance as a second-half substitute for the United States.
Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath each scored a goal for the United States, which has never finished lower than third in World Cup play.
O’Hara, who did not play in the United States’ 3-0 win over Chile, had 53 touches in the first half against Sweden — the most of any other player through the first 45 minutes.
Horan opening the scoring less than four minutes into the match, slaloming through a group of Sweden defenders during a set piece for a one-touch goal that put the United States up 1-0. It was the second goal of the tournament for the 25-year-old who plays domestically for the Portland Thorns.
Alex Morgan only played through the first half for the United States, with Carli Lloyd coming on at the break. But Heath doubled the advantage in the 50th minute with a strike from the right side of the box to go up 2-0, and Alyssa Naeher made two saves to preserve the shutout.
Next up: The United States will face Spain on Monday, June 24 in Reims, France. The winner will likely advance to face host France in the quarterfinals.
Desiree Scott, Canada
Netherlands 2, Canada 1
Utah Royals midfielder Desiree Scott started and played all 90 minutes for a Canada side that ended Group E play with a loss for second place.
The Netherlands opened the scoring in the 55th minute when Anouk Dekker finished off a set-piece goal with a glancing header inside the box to give the Dutch a 1-0 lead.
But Christine Sinclair, the Canadian goal-scoring legend, equalized less than five minutes later on a sliding tap into the back of the net. The goal gives Sinclair 182 international goals — just two shy of world leader Abby Wambach of the United States.
Les Oranje retook the lead in the 75th minute through one of its substitutes. Lineth Beerensteyn redirected a cross from the right flank and tucked it inside the post for the go-ahead goal.
Next up: Canada will play Sweden on Monday, June 24 in Paris in the Round of 16.
Katie Bowen, New Zealand
Utah’s Katie Bowen recorded an unofficial assist on an equalizing own goal to lift New Zealand to a draw in its final match of Group E play.
Njoya Ajara gave the Indomitable Lions a 1-0 lead early in the second half that held until the final 10 minutes.
That’s when Bowen’s cross was deflected into the back of the net by a Cameroonian defender, giving the Football Ferns a tie that would have eliminated both squads.
Then, in the waning seconds of the five minute-long stoppage time, Cameroon’s Ajara Nchout put the Lions ahead for good — a miraculous game-winner on the final kick of the match.
Next up: New Zealand is eliminated.
Rachel Corsie, Scotland
The Argentines overcame a late deficit with three goals in the final 30 minutes to keep Scotland from its first-ever win at a Women’s World Cup.
Kim Little, Jenny Beattie and Erin Cuthbert all scored, and Utah Royals center back Rachel Corsie helped Scotland to a shutout through 60 minutes. But Argentina scored on a controversial penalty kick to cap its 3-0 comeback and become the first team in Women’s World Cup history to salvage a point after trailing 3-0.
Next up: Scotland is eliminated.