U.S. Under-21s Down Denmark, 1-0
July 21, 2003
RANDERS, Denmark - The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team pounded away at Denmark in the opening match of the 2003 Nordic Cup, but could not break through until three minutes from the end, when forward Lindsay Tarpley (UNC) scored off a rebound of Carli Lloyd's shot to give the USA a key 1-0 victory in their quest for a fifth straight Nordic Cup title.
Held in Northern Europe every summer, the Nordic Cup serves as the top competition in the world for U-21 women. The Americans have had remarkable success in the tournament, winning the tournament five times in the last six years, including the last four in a row.
Lloyd (Rutgers) played an unlikely hero in the match. Added to the Nordic Cup roster right before the team departed for Europe due to an injury to forward Kelly Wilson, Lloyd entered the match in the 80th minute and immediately fired a shot from 18 yards out that Danish goalkeeper Heidi Johansen blocked. The ball hit the crashing Tarpley, but went just wide of the goal.
The play foreshadowed the winning goal that came in the 87th minute when Lloyd launched a 25-yard rocket that was also knocked down Johansen. Tarpley, once again framing the goal, hammered the rebound in from four yards out to give the USA a crucial opening game victory over the hosts.
'It was one of those games where the ball was just not going in,' said Tarpley, the captain of the USA's U-19 World championship team in 2002 when she scored the Golden Goal in the title game to give the Americans a 1-0 victory over Canada. 'We did a great job of persevering and not becoming frustrated, which helped us figure out a way to get that goal and win the game.'
The win was particularly sweet for the USA, who lost to Denmark, 1-0, in the opening game of last year's Nordic Cup and then had to scramble to make the title game.
'We definitely dominated the whole game,' said U.S. defender Cat Reddick (UNC), who is playing in her fourth and final Nordic Cup. 'It was exactly like the Denmark game last year, except we didn't let them score and we got one. That goalkeeper was awesome. We should have scored like four goals. She is huge.'
Johansen, the goalkeeper for the full Danish National Team, who also played a spectacular game against the USA last year, made 14 saves to keep the game tight until the end.
'We put pressure on them the entire match,' said Tarpley, who anchored the USA's 3-4-3 formation up top with Kelly McDonald (Texas) and 17-year-old Sheree Gray (World Class SC). 'With our three forwards, it was hard for them to break that pressure and get anything going offensively.'
While the USA struggled to finish even with a 25-3 shot margin, the defense, led by Reddick, Amy LePeilbet (Arizona State) and Nandi Pryce (UCLA) kept the Danes at bay in front of 17-year-old goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (Indiatlantic Force), who went the entire way, but was not tested.
'I thought we played really well,' said U.S. head coach Chris Petrucelli. 'I don't think we gave up a solid goal-scoring chance and we created a bunch of chances, but the credit goes to their goalkeeper who kept them in the game. The big thing that stands out is that Tarpley continues to score big goals for our youth teams.'
The goal was Tarpley's first for the U-21 National Team after scoring 26 goals in 24 U-19 international matches.
The USA used the flanks well throughout the match, getting Lori Chalupny (UNC) and Lindsey Huie (Portland) in dangerous positions, especially in the second half, while solid headers from Leslie Osborne (Santa Clara) and Tarpley flew high in the first half.
'It was like a Shannon MacMillan shot,' said Reddick of Lloyd's blast. 'And Tarpley, like always, was in the right spot to finish.'
The USA will now face Iceland in its second Group A match on Wednesday, July 23 in Randers. The top teams in both groups advance to the championship game.
'We knew that we had a big challenge in playing the host team first, so it was a huge win,' added Tarpley. 'Now we can start focusing on Iceland, as you have to win every game to make the championship.'
In the other Group A match, Iceland picked up a big 1-1 tie with Norway. In Group B, Sweden downed Greece, 2-0, while Germany took the upper hand in the group with a 4-0 win over Finland.
Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer