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$1 million goal: US Women win first women's TST

A poacher's goal from Talia DellaPeruta in Target Stoppage Time seals the win for a US Women team that outclassed North Carolina Courage.

Talia DellaPeruta's million-dollar smile | Courtesy US Women

The Soccer Tournament's inaugural women's division was won by US Women, who defeated North Carolina Courage 6-3.

It was close, until it wasn't. US Women, the grandiose name for a team stacked with recently retired stars from the United States national women's team (Ali Krieger, Lori Lawson, Lori Lindsey, Jo Lohman, Allie Long, Heather O'Reilley), dominated possession and scored first. But North Carolina, playing on their home field, evened the score. So it went, back-and-forth, until US Women pulled away and led 5-3 at the end of regulation.

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The oldsters on US Women might have the name recognition, to say nothing of a coaching staff that includes Mia Hamm and Carli Lloyd, but it was the kids who carried the day.

It was Bella Sember, a Junior at the University of North Carolina, who put US Women up 4-3 with a howitzer of a shot from outside of the box.

Then there was the game-winner from 22-year-old Talia DellaPeruta. The former North Carolina Tar Heel is now with UC Sampdoria in Italy's Serie A Femminile. Her poacher's goal was opportunistic, but it was the product of a dominant run of play by US Women.

When DellaPeruta pounced on an errant pass in the box, North Carolina's goalkeeper didn't stand a chance.

There are two observations to be made from this match.

One, pedigree doesn't guarantee success. US Women are deserving winners, but the sophisticated possession-based style of the former USWNT stars could look a little ponderous at this tournament. The tight dimensions of the fields and the brief halves are best exploited by quick, kinetic runs of play.

Two, good on The Soccer Tournament for establishing a separate women's division and giving it a cash prize equal to that of the men's division. Last year, a total of 32 men's and women's teams competed for a single $1 million purse. This year, eight women's teams competed in one division, and 48 men's teams in another. With $1 million on the line, it's easy to see the women's division expanding significantly in 2025, which could make The Soccer Tournament even more balanced and competitive along the lines of Wimbledon or the US Open.

That is, if Wimbledon or the US Open shrank the playing surfaces, amped up the energy, and packed a few week's worth of matches into 6 days.

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