Pryce, U-21s Tie Norway, 1-1
July 25, 2003
RANDERS, Denmark - With the U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team already having secured a spot in the championship game of the 2003 Nordic Cup by virtue of wins in its first two games of the tournament, the Americans played to a 1-1 tie with Norway in the final Group A match. The USA will face Group B winner Sweden for the title on Sunday, July 27, at 5 p.m.. local / 11 a.m. ET at Randers Stadium.
The USA is going for an unprecedented fifth consecutive Nordic Cup championship and its sixth in the last seven years. The Nordic Cup, which is played annually during the summer in northern Europe, has developed into the top competition in the world for U-21 women, and the string of results on European soil for the USA's oldest women's youth national team has been impressive.
The USA won its first Nordic Cup in 1997 in Denmark, defeating Norway in the final in sudden death overtime on a goal by former San Diego Spirit midfielder Jen Mascaro. The USA fell to Norway the following year, but then gained revenge in 1999, winning 2-1 in sudden death overtime on a goal from Lauren Orlandos of the New York Power. In 2000, the Americans downed host Germany in the championship game, 1-0, on a brilliant goal from Jena Kluegel of the Boston Breakers. In 2001, the USA registered the most lopsided win in the history of Nordic Cup finals, destroying Sweden, 6-1, as Annie Morrell scored three goals, Aleisha Cramer added two and Lori Chalupny (UNC), a member of this year's U.S. team, added one. Last year, the USA defeated Germany in the championship game, 3-1, as Marcia Wallis of the Carolina Courage scored twice and Cat Reddick (UNC), who is playing in her fourth and final Nordic Cup this year, scored once.
In a rough and tumble match, Norway sat back, absorbed the USA's pressure and waited for counter-attacking opportunities. The plan seemed to be working to perfection when Heidi Pedersen scored off a counter in the 52nd minute, but the USA equalized 12 minutes later.
The play started when Reddick sent a pass to Chalupny down the right flank. The gritty midfielder was hammered hard, but stayed on her feet to beat two defenders and cross to the far post. The ball flew over a pack of players to Kim Yokers (California), who did well to send the ball back across the goal for Kelly McDonald (Texas) to tap in from close range.
'It's been a really good experience to play in a big tournament like this,' said McDonald. 'I've heard about the Nordic Cup all my life coming up through the national team programs with the U-16s, U-18s and U-21s and it was my goal to make this team. Everyone is real excited to be playing in the final.'
The USA had come inches from taking the lead in the 16th minute when captain Joanna Lohman (Penn State) clanged a shot off the cross bar from 30 yards out.
The match saw few great chances for either team in a game that decided only if Norway would play for third or fifth place. With Denmark's 2-0 win over Iceland in the other Group A match, Norway was sent to the fifth place game where they will face Greece. Norway tied all three of its first round matches.
With a spot in the championship game secured, and after starting the same 10 field players in the first two matches with goalkeepers Ashlyn Harris (Satellite Beach, Fla.) and Nicole Barnhart (Stanford) each playing one game, U.S.. head coach Chris Petrucelli started six different players against Norway.
'It was typical Norway-USA game,' said Petrucelli. 'It was a physical battle and they really sat in and tried to counter. We were trying to break them down all game, but it was a great learning experience for us to be in that kind of environment against that kind of team. Most importantly, we rested a number of players and we should be fresh going into the game on Sunday.'
The USA is expecting a tough game from a Sweden side that like the Americans has given up just one goal in the tournament.
'Sweden is a good a team,' said Petrucelli. 'They have three our four real personality players that like to go forward and they have shown throughout the week that they are hard to break down.'
'We put ourselves in a great situation by doing well in the first two games and not having to win this one,' said defender Ally Marquand (Stanford), who is playing in her third and final Nordic Cup and played 90 minutes against Sweden in the final two years ago. 'For the past couple months we had some new players, and it was difficult to gel, but we've come together as a team and showed that against Denmark and Iceland. I am sure Sweden is a stronger team than we played two years ago, but if we play like we did in the first two games, we have the skill and the talent to win this tournament..'
Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer