Sept. 1, 2002
EDMONTON, Alberta - Under the most adverse of conditions and on the biggest of stages, the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team pulled off an historic victory in front of 47,784 fans at Commonwealth Stadium, defeating host Canada, 1-0, in sudden death overtime on a 109th minute "golden goal" from U.S. captain Lindsay Tarpley.
"It was an incredible game," said U.S. head coach Tracey Leone. "Canada came out so organized, together and tough. And of course, the crowd was amazing. It was a great opportunity for both teams to play in front of that kind of crowd. Canada came out fighting and it was an incredible product to show the world. It was well played and end-to-end. We are always trying to sell and develop the women's game and certainly this was a great advertisement for that."
With the massive crowd awash with Canadian flags, and the fans cheering on a team that had become the darlings of their country over the past two weeks, the young U.S. players kept their composure and kept pounding away until the Canadian blockade finally broke.
Substitute Megan Kakadelas, who came on 105th minute, created the winning goal just four minutes later. The slick dribbling forward received a pass from Leslie Osborne down the left flank and curved in a cross on the ground. The ball rolled across the goal to the cutting Tarpley, but she had her first shot attempt blocked. The ball somehow squirted behind the defender as Tarpley went into the tackle and the U.S. captain pounded her shot into the net from close range to end the game. It was Tarpley's seventh goal of the tournament.
"I really don't know what happened," said Tarpley. "All I know is that all of sudden the ball popped in front of me. I saw the 'keeper moving to the near post, so I shot far post. Then we went crazy."
Tarpley was awarded with the Bronze Boot as the third leading scorer in the tournament while Kelly Wilson earned the Silver Boot as the tournament's second leading scorer with nine goals, behind Canadian star Christine Sinclair, who had 10 goals in the competition. Wilson played in one less match than Sinclair, sitting out the USA's 6-0 group victory against Chinese Taipei. Wilson also picked up the Bronze Ball as the third most valuable player in the tournament. Sinclair won the Golden Ball and Brazil's Marta was awarded with the Silver Ball.
The victory was the end of a glorious two-year run to the tournament in which this group of U-19s went 21-1-1 in international competition and formed a family bond that carried them past an excellent and tough Canadian team, and their massive fan support, to the first-ever world championship for youth women.
"The journey not only made us better players, but it showed us that great things can be accomplished through hard work, love and belief," said Tarpley. "Over the last two years, we've had some amazing times on the soccer field, but it's the friendships we'll carry forever. I know we will look back at this 20 years from now with the same feelings for each other that we have now. We'll remember the day we became world champions together."
With the win, the U-19s added another first to the glorious history of the U.S. Women's National Team program, which won the first Women's World Cup and the first Olympic gold medal for women's soccer, but it was not easy.
After rolling through the tournament while scoring 25 goals and allowing just two, the U.S. ran into a Canadian team that played a 5-3-2 formation for the entire match, intent on not letting the USA get a goal while looking to steal one of their own on the counter-attack. While the defensive formation showed great respect for the USA's "Triple-Edged Sword" of forwards Tarpley, Wilson and Heather O'Reilly, it was also a solid tactical plan as the Canadians always had numbers behind the ball.
The Canadians moved 15-year-old Kara Lang from the forward line and into the midfield, where she played a poor match before being replaced in the 74th minute, leaving the U.S. back line to deal with Sinclair and Katie Thorlakson. Both forwards played solid matches and created more than a few scary moments for the U.S. team.
The U.S. had to deal with some early adversity after defender Rachel Buehler went down in the 13th minute, suffering what may have been a serious injury to her right knee. She will be evaluated tomorrow, but had to leave the match and was replaced by Jessica Ballweg, who went the rest of the way.
After Ballweg came on, Osborne moved to left back and Kendall Fletcher moved into the midfield, where she played a tremendous game, battling for every loose ball and freeing up the middle for Lori Chalupny to work her magic. Chalupny, one of the unsung heroes of the team during the tournament, was perhaps the game's MVP, as she repeatedly settled the team in midfield, changed the point of attack and probed the Canadian back line for openings.
"For 109 minutes, Lori Chalupny was the best player on the field," said U.S. Women's National Team Head Coach April Heinrichs. "She was bringing the ball down under pressure, slipping out of pressure while players hacked at her ankles and winning balls from far bigger players than her. She was awesome."
Both goalkeepers played world-class matches, with Canadian Erin McLeod extremely solid on numerous crosses sent into her penalty area. U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who is just 16 years old, picked up her fourth shutout of the tournament and came up huge on several occasions, none bigger than when her diving save turned away a point blank shot from Thorlakson after she had split two U.S. defenders inside the penalty area in the 58th minute. Harris also came off her line in overtime to punch clear a dangerous bouncing ball.
The win was a victory for soccer as the Americans played a smart, sharp possession game and dominated the match territorially, only to repeatedly run into a Canadian wall, led by center defender Sasha Andrews. Canada was content to knock almost every ball long, putting tremendous pressure on the U.S. back line, but central defenders Keeley Dowling and Jill Oakes played remarkably poised and tough games, winning air ball after air ball, and were certainly a key to the victory.
Thorlakson and Brittany Timko each got behind the U.S. defense on the right side in the first half, but the Americans were able to clear one away and watch one shot skip by the right post. The half ended 0-0, the first time the USA had been shutout in a first half during the tournament. Led by Andrews and McLeod, Canada did a tremendous job of limiting the USA's scoring chances, with the first quality one coming in the 68th minute. Wilson got behind Andrews on the left flank and cut a short pass back to O'Reilly, but she shot high from 16 yards out.
Ballweg had a game-saving tackle in the 76th after Thorlakson had snuck past Dowling in right side of penalty area and cut cross back to Sinclair, but the U.S. defender was on the spot to knock the ball out of bounds.
O'Reilly, who scored four goals and had six assists in the tournament, took a knock in a collision with McLeod and a Canadian defender at the beginning of overtime, and was clearly limping, but she gutted it out the rest of the way.
The USA did get around the outside of the Canadian defense on numerous occasions throughout the match, but could never find a runner, while McLeod was frequently there to cut off the crosses.
The USA pushed for a winning goal at the end of the match, striking several shots that flashed by the posts, but it was Sinclair who had the best chance of all. In the 90th minute, the Canadian captain pushed through a defender in the penalty area, but from just eight yards out, fired high to give the USA life.
The Americans showed tremendous grit and fitness to keep pushing for the winning goal, and got it from Tarpley just four minutes into the second overtime period, sparking a massive celebration among the U.S. players in front of a stunned and silent Commonwealth Stadium.
Tarpley played a large chunk of the game in midfield, dropping back after Angela Wonzuk came on in the 59th minute. Woznuk would be replaced by Kakadelas in overtime, but played a classy match for the USA, especially as she had not seen much action during the tournament, holding the ball up front for the USA and almost creating several scoring chances.
The "Triple-Edged Sword" of Wilson, Tarpley and O'Reilly combined for 20 goals in the tournament and cemented their place in U.S. Soccer history in leading their team to victory.
"It can now be a dream of younger players to compete to win a world championship at the U-19 level," said Leone. "It was a wonderful experience that will pay off later in their careers. At 19, 18 or 17, to play front of 50,000 fans in a world championship, you just can simulate that. We are indebted to the U.S. Soccer Federation for their support over the past two years and for giving us what we needed to win. I'm just so happy for this group of young women. It was a wonderful two years and they deserve to be world champions."
U.S. UNDER-19 WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Participants: U. S. U-19 National Team vs. Canada U-19 National Team
Competition: 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship - Final
Venue: Commonwealth Stadium - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Date: August 29, 2002 - Kickoff 2:00 p.m. MT
Attendance: Sunny, clear - 75 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1st 2nd OT OT2 Final
USA 0 0 0 1 1
CAN 0 0 0 0 0
USA - Lindsay Tarpley (unassisted) 109th minute.
USA: 18-Ashlyn Harris, 2-Rachel Buehler (3-Jessica Ballweg, 13), 11-Keeley Dowling, 4-Jill Oakes,
8-Kendall Fletcher, 10-Leslie Osborne, 7-Lori Chalupny, 13-Manya Makoski (12-Angie Woznuk, 59,
17-Megan Kakadelas, 105), 9-Heather O'Reilly, 15-Lindsay Tarpley-Capt., 16-Kelly Wilson.
Subs not used: 1-Megan Rivera, 5-Kerri Hanks, 14-Sarah Huffman, 19-Stephanie Ebner.
CAN: 1-Erin McLeod, 9-Candace Chapman, 8-Clare Rustad, 4-Sasha Andrews, 13-Melanie Booth,
6-Amy Vermeulen, 3-Carmelina Moscato, 17-Brittany Timko, 15-Kara Lang (5-Robyn Gayle, 75),
16-Katie Thorlakson, 12-Christine Sinclair - Capt.
Subs not used: 2-Heather Smith, 7-Myriam Gousse, 10-Caroline Vaillancourt, 11-Michelle Rowe,
14-Christina Kahlina, 18-Jessica Hussey.
Statistical Summary: USA CAN
Shots 13 11
Shots on Goal 5 6
Saves 5 4
Corner Kicks 8 1
Fouls 10 13
Offside 1 2
CAN - Robyn Gayle (caution) 106th minute.
Referee: Dianne Ferreira-James (Guyana)
Asst. Referee: Maria Isabel Tovar Diaz (Mexico)
Asst. Referee: Katarzyna Nadolska (Poland)
4th Official: Floarea Ionescu (Romania)