July 29, 2002

U.S. U21 Women's Team Wins Fourth Straight Nordic Cup

July 29, 2002

TURKU, Finland - The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team won its fourth consecutive Nordic Cup tournament with a dominating 3-1 victory over Germany today as Marcia Wallis scored two goals and Cat Reddick added a third. It was the fifth time in the last six years that the U.S. U-21s have won the Nordic Cup, which is played annually in northern Europe. Without a sanctioned FIFA tournament for U-21 women, the Nordic Cup serves as the top competition in the world for this age group. The USA also beat Germany in 2000 championship game, 1-0.

The Americans came close to missing the final for the first time in six years, but won its group on goal difference to earn the right to face Germany and made the most of the opportunity, dominating the first half while holding the Germans without a shot.

"It's not easy to win a championship and even harder to defend one," said U.S. head coach Jerry Smith. "We had two goals coming into this tournament, one was to defend the championship and two was to put on a dominating performance. In the final today, against a great Germany team, we did dominate and clearly deserved the victory."

The U.S. got on the board in the 21st minute as Joanna Lohman collected a ball on right wing and sent cross into the middle for Wallis, who powered a header across her body and into the lower left corner of the net from seven yards out.

The USA continued to run at Germany in the first half, creating good chances for Aly Wagner, Reddick and Lohman, but it was Wallis who would put the USA up 2-0 just two minutes into the second half.

Defender Ally Marquand knocked a cross from the right wing that forced German goalkeeper Ursula Holl to scramble to the far post, but Wagner beat her to bouncing ball, only to have her shot blocked by the jumping 'keeper. The rebound bounced to Wallis, who roofed her shot off the underside of the crossbar and in from 10 yards out.

Holl was brilliant for Germany, denying the Americans on several occasions with flying saves. After going down 2-0, the Germans picked up their game and came at the USA. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made several world-class saves in the match, including one in the 49th minute as German forward Conny Pohlers broke through the U.S. defense. She dribbled one-on-one at Solo, who made a huge save, pushing the ball away with her left hand to keep the Germans off the board.

Solo could not stop Martina Muller's drive three minutes later however, as the Germans pulled a goal back. The play started off a corner kick as captain Nandi Pryce still managed a quality clearance with her head even as she was hit in the air. The ball fell Muller, who cracked a sizzling 25-yard screamer into upper left corner past the partially screened Solo.

After pulling within one, Germany pounded away for another and took the game to the Americans for about 10 minutes, coming close to an equalizer on several occasions. Solo made another big save in the 57th minute, pushing another long-range drive around the left post that would have tied the match.

With the storm weathered, the U.S. then settled down and took back control of the match for the final 30 minutes, getting the clinching goal in the 63rd minute. It came off a short corner kick from left side, as Wagner played the ball to Veronica Zepeda, who beat her defender down end line and knocked a pass back into the middle for Christie Welsh. Welsh hit her shot first time and Reddick was framing at the far post to re-direct ball into the net from four yards out.

Germany made an admirable run after the break, taking all seven of its shots and earning all seven of its corner kicks in the second half, but Reddick's goal put an end to their championship hopes. Pohlers came into the match with five goals, and left with five, as her best chance was denied by Solo. Lohman had another solid match for the U.S. in the midfield and was the player of the tournament for the USA.

Ten of the U.S. players who played in the championship game have earned caps with the full U.S. Women's National Team, a positive indication of not only the future of the U.S. Women's National Team program, but the successful blending of young talent with the U.S. veterans by U.S. head coach April Heinrichs.

"The experience in this championship will be great for our U21 players to draw from if they graduate to the full team to represent the U.S. in future World Cup and Olympic games," added Smith.

The U.S. players will now return home for a brief rest before starting their pre-season training camps with their respective college teams in mid-August.

In the other placement matches, Norway routed Denmark, 5-1, for third place, Sweden beat Finland 3-1 for fifth place and Iceland defeated Greece, 4-1 in penalty kicks, after tying 1-1 in regulation, to take seventh.