Lloyd’s hat trick lifts US past Ireland, 5-0

Lloyd's hat trick lifts US past Ireland, 5-0
The United States' Carli Lloyd (10) celebrates a goal with teammate Alex Morgan, right, during the first half in a women's international friendly soccer game against Ireland Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

SAN DIEGO (AP) – The United States women’s soccer team’s road to Rio got off to a smooth start.

Carli Lloyd scored three goals to help the U.S. defeat Ireland 5-0 in an international friendly on Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium. It was the Americans’ final match before next month’s CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament for the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Alex Morgan, playing in her 100th match with the national team, and Mallory Pugh, making her debut, also scored.

Lloyd, who had a hat trick in last summer’s World Cup final against Japan, made it 3-0 with her last goal in the 28th minute when she sprinted free from the Irish defenders and sent a shot past goalkeeper Emma Bryne. It was the 2015 FIFA women’s player of the year’s 19th goal in her last 14 matches.

Hope Solo was in goal for the shutout and didn’t make her first save until the 66th minute.

Morgan was honored before the game for becoming the 34th female player to appear in 100 matches for the U.S. She extended the lead to 4-0 by scoring her 57th career goal in the 45th minute.

The match capped a 17-day training camp for the U.S. as it must trim its roster from 26 to 20 players. The team is in transition, with seven players from the World Cup-winning squad absent because of retirement, injuries and a pregnancy.

The U.S. is attempting to become the first team to win the World Cup and the Olympics in consecutive years.

The Americans took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute when Lloyd scored off a nifty crossing pass from Morgan. It was Lloyd’s 80th career goal, as she became only the sixth American to reach that milestone.

Lloyd made it 2-0 in the 21st with a putback header, after Morgan’s header was blocked by Byrne. Lloyd collided with defender Louise Quinn when scoring the goal and was slow to rise after being knocked down.

Lloyd, who led the U.S. with 18 goals last year, briefly left the match before being cleared by the team’s medical staff.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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