U-21 Women's National Team Downs Germany, 3-1
July 25, 2005
Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer
KARLSKOGA, Sweden - Lindsay Tarpley scored twice and Heather O'Reilly added another goal as the U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team continued its remarkable run at the annual Nordic Cup, the world's premier event for U-21 women, rolling to a 3-1 victory over Germany to claim the top spot in Group B and a berth in the championship game.
'It was unbelievable, a great performance,' said U.S. head coach Jillian Ellis. 'Everybody played so well that I can't even single anyone out. From front to back, we were fantastic. Our front players were able to hold the ball, our backs stepped in and rotated well and we were really able to shut down their two talented forwards. It was a great match to watch, it was fun.'
The USA will face long-time rival Norway for the title on Tuesday, July 26. The match marks an amazingly consistent ninth consecutive Nordic Cup title game for the U.S. women, who have won an unprecedented six Nordic Cups in a row and seven out of the last eight. This is the 15th annual Nordic Cup that is held in northern Europe every summer.
The USA played Norway in a Nordic Cup Final in three consecutive years from 1997-1999, winning twice and losing in 1998, but has not faced their long-time rivals in a Nordic Cup final since then.
The U.S. defense was stellar, led by center backs Jill Oakes and Rachel Buehler, who played the entire match despite suffering a broken nose against Denmark in the USA's last game. German forward Shelley Thompson came into the match with eight goals, but could not find a way past the U.S. backs.
O'Reilly got the USA started in the 27th minute, running onto a pass from the USA's youngest player, forward Lauren Cheney, that had been slipped behind the German defense. O'Reilly went one-one with the goalkeeper, then rounded her on the dribble before knocking it into the open net from three yards out.
The Germans picked up a little steam at the end of the first half as the U.S. lost a bit of their rhythm, but the half ended with the USA up by one. Tarpley added to the lead in the 64th minute on a goal that originated from a free kick on the left side. Defender Stephanie Lopez switched the ball across the field to defender Kendall Fletcher, who spied Tarpley running to the far post. She lofted a perfect cross that the U.S. captain took on her chest, let it drop to the ground, and hit a perfect half-volley with her right foot into the right corner from 12 yards out.
'Kendall and I kind of made eye contact, we both knew it was on,' said Tarpley. 'It was a tough game. It's Germany and the rivalry between our countries is great, but we really came out ready to play and I was so proud of our team because everyone contributed to the win.'
None more than Tarpley, though, who sealed the match five minutes after her first goal, dribbling at the German defense before firing a 22-yard shot into the lower left corner. Tarpley, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd have each scored two goals in the tournament while O'Reilly is the leading U.S. scorer with three.
'We controlled more of the game, but they were also dangerous,' said Tarpley. '(Thompson) had like eight goals in the tournament coming into the game and our backs just played a great game. Rachel Buehler, with her broken nose, was dominating the Germans. I don't think anyone beat Jill Oakes all game.'
The Germans added a consolation goal in the 85th minute, but by that time, the Americans had the match sewn up.'Our preparation and attitude when we stepped on the field was excellent,' added Ellis. 'No one wants to look past teams, but I know our players were excited to be playing Germany. At every level we run into Germany as our nemesis.'
In the other Group B match, Iceland defeated Denmark, 4-2. Norway won Group A and a spot facing the USA in the title game with a 1-0 to win over Finland. England defeated Sweden, 2-1, to take second place in Group A.