Aug. 25, 2002
VICTORIA, B.C. - The U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team once again got scintillating performances from its forwards and rode a Kelly Wilson hat trick to a hard-fought 6-0 victory over Denmark in the quarterfinals of the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship.
The USA now travels to Edmonton, Alberta, to face Germany in a semifinal on Thursday at Commonwealth Stadium. The U.S. will play the first semifinal, kicking off at 4:15 p.m. PT and fans can follow the action live on www.ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics. Germany advanced to the semis with a 2-1 overtime victory over Japan today.
Canada and Brazil will meet in the other semifinal contest. Canada earned its berth by crushing England, 6-2, while Brazil earned their ticket with a 4-3 sudden death overtime victory over Australia.
In a match that was much tougher than final score indicated, Denmark created some danger throughout the game from forwards Sandra Jensen and Marie Herping, but the U.S. back line was there every time to snuff out chances while U.S. goakeeper Ashlyn Harris made several good saves when called upon.
At the other end of the field, Denmark could not handle the USA's striking trio of Wilson, Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O'Reilly, who accounted for all six goals, with O'Reilly scoring twice in the first half and Tarpley getting one in the second. Tarpley and O'Reilly each had a pair of assists as well.
Denmark came out with something to prove and had several dangerous chances early on as Herping had a shot saved by Harris and then Johanna Rasmussen struck a dangerous cross a few minutes later.
The Americans started to assert themselves after 10 minutes and got the early goal it needed to settle the team down through a brilliant strike from O'Reilly. The goal scoring sequence came from a Wilson cross on the left wing. Rasmussen headed the ball almost straight up in the air, but when she tried to head it again, she cleared it poorly and the ball bounced on the left elbow of the six-yard box. O'Reilly wasted no motion in striking rocket off Andersen's hands, off the cross bar and into the net. It was the first shot of the game for the USA, which put on a clinic of scoring efficiency, taking just nine shots in the first half, but putting seven on goal and four in the net.
The early part of the game was end-to-end as Denmark worked its tactical plan well, getting eight players behind the ball before launching counter attacks through Jensen and Herping. The Danes attacked with speed through the midfield and put pressure on the USA's three-woman back line, but Jill Oakes, Rachel Buehler and Jessica Ballweg put the breaks on every Danish charge. Oakes had a particularly solid match in the center of the defense, winning almost every challenge she entered.
Tarpley created the second U.S. goal in the 23rd minute, taking a high ball down off her chest in midfield and penetrating to goal before striking a left-footed spinner that looked as if it might sail over Andersen. The Danish goalkeeper made a great save diving backwards to swat the ball down, but gave up a bad rebound and O'Reilly pounced on the ball, pounding in a half-volley from one yard out past the fallen Andersen.
O'Reilly almost got another in the 42nd minute when her shot from 25 yards out hit the crossbar, but Denmark would not get to the break unscathed, as the U.S. scored two goals in five minutes at the end of the half. One minute after O'Reilly hit woodwork, she took a pass from Tarpley and drove into the left side of the penalty area, froze a defender with a stop-and-go move, then dribbled at Andersen, drawing the goalkeeper out of her net. O'Reilly then toed a perfect square pass to Wilson, who slid to bury the ball from five yards out into the open net.
O'Reilly and Wilson were not done as in the 2nd minute of stoppage time the two combined again as O'Reilly sent a chip over the Danish defense. Wilson got her body in front of Ellen Larsen and bent the ball under the charging Andersen with the outside her right foot and into the net from 14 yards out.
Leone put in defender Keeley Dowling for Manya Makoski at halftime and switched to a lineup featuring four backs, which made it tougher for Denmark to counter attack, but Jensen still ran at the U.S. the entire second half.
Tarpley got her goal in the 56th minute as Leslie Osborne sent a high ball back into the penalty area after a cleared corner kick. The ball bounced and Tarpley beat Andersen to it, nodding in a header from six yards out, but got a slap across the neck from the goalkeeper as the two collided. It was the U.S. captain's fourth goal of the tournament.
The final U.S. goal came in the 68th minute as O'Reilly played Tarpley in the middle of the field about 40 yards from the goal. On the dribble, the ball ran away from Tarpley, but she got close enough to slide and slip ball through to Wilson. With a defender on her hip, Wilson dribbled into the penalty area and skidded a shot under Andersen with her left foot from 14 yards out to complete her hat trick. With seven goals, Wilson is the second leading scorer in the tournament behind Christine Sinclair, who has 10 based on her five-goal explosion against England today.
Defender Rachel Buehler was shown a yellow card in the 71st minute for a hard foul, the first caution of the tournament for the young U.S. team. The Americans recorded their third shutout in a row and have not given up a goal since the 47th minute of the first match of the tournament against England.
"Jill Oakes is such a steady center back, you just feel so secure with her back there, and having Ballweg and Buehler along side of her, it's quite a tidy back line," said Leone. "In the second half, we put Keeley Dowling back there and Kendall Fletcher and both also played very well."
Denmark had two chances in the waning minutes of the game as Jensen made a thundering run down the right flank in the 85th minute, but was forced off the ball by Oakes and Fletcher. With just second left, Jensen won a ball in the USA's defensive third and cracked a swerving drive at Harris, but the 16-year-old U.S. goalkeeper made a great catch to snare the shot.
"Ashlyn got some action tonight and really stepped up," said Leone of her goalkeeper who saved all five of Denmark's shots on goal. "She showed some great experience even though she is such a young player. For her to hold some of those shots was outstanding. She was in a zone tonight."
The USA travels to Edmonton tomorrow afternoon after spending two fantastic and successful weeks in Victoria, B.C., where they played four matches at Centennial Stadium while scoring 21 goals and giving up just one. "Once you get down to last eight teams, it's an all-out war," said Leone. "Now we're down to four and the ante is being upped even more. Germany is an excellent team and I know it's going to be a great final four."