There was no fairytale finish for the Football Ferns in Cincinnati, the Kiwis thumped 5-0 by the world No.1 United States team in a ruthlessly clinical display.
The 19th-ranked New Zealanders were hopeful of improvement after losing 3-1 four days ago in Colorado, in the first game of their two-match tour.
But after managing to keep the US scoreless for the opening half-hour, the Kiwis conceded two goals in the 10 minutes before half-time, then three more in the second spell for a dispiriting defeat.
Coach Tony Readings admitted the result was disappointing, particularly given the Ferns’ encouraging showing in Denver.
“When you play these teams, you want to make sure you perform really really well and hope that maybe they’re not quite hitting their straps,” he said.
“I think it was the other way round today.”
Limited to only the occasional foray on goal, the Kiwis still managed to keep the US scoreless until the 36th minute.
A searching through ball from Sam Mewis found sub midfielder Lindsey Horan, who caught keeper Erin Nayler off her line with a well-directed looping header.
Nineteen-year-old striker Mallory Pugh doubled the lead two minutes out from half-time, finishing off some slick passing with a cool finish on Nayler’s near post.
Alex Morgan took barely 30 seconds from the restart to extend the US lead, then Lynn Williams headed home their fourth in the 55th minute.
Morgan slammed in her second from close range in the 69th minute, the Kiwis then hanging on desperately to keep the US scoreless for the final 20 minutes.
Readings said there were plenty of lessons to learn from the two-match tour from a squad which is in the process of rebuilding.
“There’s been some major positives on and off the pitch,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good things and there’s a lot we need to work on. We knew coming in it would be tough, and sometimes the harshest lessons you learn the most from.
“We’re in a bit of a transition, this team, at the moment so we need to find hese things out.”