Oakes, U.S. Under-21 Women Win Sixth Straight Nordic Cup Title

July 29, 2004

AKUREYRI, Iceland (July 29, 2004) -The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team continued its six-year dominance of the world at their age level, shutting out their fourth straight opponent by a 3-0 score to defeat Sweden for the championship of the 14th annual Nordic Cup.

Midfielder Lori Chalupny scored at the stroke of halftime and forwards Kelly Wilson and Carli Lloyd both added second-half goals as the Americans held Sweden without a shot in the game. The USA went 360 minutes during the tournament without allowing a goal, as goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart recorded shutouts in all four games.

'We talked about how explosive this team was coming into the tournament and that held true with the number of different players that scored,' said U.S. head coach Chris Petrucelli, who saw all six of the attacking starters in his 4-3-3 lineup score in the tournament. 'We showed that at any time and anyone on the team was capable of scoring a goal. We had so many different options that it was just difficult to shut us down.'

The USA has now won seven out of the last eight Nordic Cups dating back to 1997 under four different coaches. The title was the second Nordic Cup triumph for Petrucelli. The commanding win over Sweden gave the USA an unprecedented sixth consecutive championship in the world's top competition for U-21 women. Sweden was the victim in the championship game for the third time in the last four years. No other country has won more than two Nordic Cups in a row (Sweden did it twice) and Sweden owns the next most titles in the tournament (four) that has been held since 1990.

'We were dominant from the opening whistle of the tournament to the last minute of the Sweden game,' said Petrucelli. 'I have to credit U.S. Soccer for our outstanding preparation. The quality of games we played over the last six or seven months was unprecedented for the U-21 team, so when we came to play this tournament, we had been through a number of different environments and conditions and we were able to handle anything anyone threw at us.'

The first goal came just before halftime off a left-side corner kick from defender Lindsey Huie. Sweden could not clear the ball and U.S. center back Keeley Dowling jumped to win a header, keeping the ball alive. Chalupny pounced on the free ball and bent her shot through a crowd and around the goalkeeper from 12 yards out with her right foot for her first goal of the tournament. Chalupny scored twice at the 2001 Nordic Cup.

'We have very good chemistry in the midfield and all over the field,' said Chalupny, who spent three months this year training with the Women's National Team at Olympic Residency Camp. 'It's always great to win a tournament of this level and I know some of these players are going to be able to play for the full national team someday.'

While the Swedes were big and physical, they could not match the USA's athleticism or possession, and sat back in a low-pressure defense the entire match, even after going down.

The second goal was a solo effort in the 57th minute by Wilson, who won a bouncing ball with her head, flicking it over a defender on the run. She brought the ball down on her thigh after spinning around the defender and raced in one-on-one with Swedish goalkeeper Kristin Hammarstrom before slotting her shot into the left corner from 16 yards out. It was her third goal of the tournament.

The USA iced the game three minutes later as forward Natasha Kai outran a defender to latch onto a Jenny Farenbaugh pass from down the right flank and cut a cross back to the charging Lloyd, whose shot hit a defender, then glanced off the goalkeeper's hands before rolling into the net. It was Lloyd's second score of the Nordic Cup.

'The core of this group won the U-19 World Championship in 2002, so this is a group of players that know how to win on the big stage,' said Petrucelli, who had five starters - Jill Oakes, Dowling, Chalupny, Sarah Huffman and Kelly Wilson - who played on Tracey Leone's 2002 world champs. 'They have proven once again that they are the best in the world for their birth years..'

The four shutouts marked the first time the USA has won the Nordic Cup without allowing a goal.

'It was really a credit to our overall team defense, starting with our forwards all the way back to Barnie,' said Dowling. 'I think having the experience of the U-19 world championship, we were probably a little more confident coming into the Nordic Cup. Even when the score was 0-0 late in the half, we weren't panicking. Having that type of experience under out belts really helped our composure.'

Petrucelli started the same 11 players for each of the four matches, with the defense featuring Huie as the left back, Oakes and Dowling in the middle and Farenbaugh on the right.

'The defense was just extremely solid the whole tournament,' said Petrucelli.. 'The other teams very rarely broke us down, and on top of that, the defenders did a really good job of setting play for us because all the teams sat back and we had to play-make from the back.'

All the Nordic Cup champions will return to their college campuses to prepare for the 2004 NCAA season except for captain Johanna Lohman, the only player who has finished her eligibility.

In a strange twist, all of the other three placement matches tied 1-1 after regulation and went to penalty kicks. Finland defeated Denmark for second place, Iceland defeated Germany for fifth place and Norway defeated England for seventh.

Scoring Summary:
USA - Lori Chalupny (Keeley Dowling) 45th minute
USA - Kelly Wilson (Unassisted) 57th minute
USA - Carli Lloyd (Natasha Kai) 60th minute

Lineups: USA: 1-Nicole Barnhart; 2-Lindsey Huie, 14-Jill Oakes, 12-Keeley Dowling, 5-Jenny Farenbaugh (9-Kacey White, 88); 3-Joanna Lohman-C, 8-Sarah Huffman, 16-Lori Chalupny (4-Nikki Thaden, 73); 17-Kelly Wilson (12-Esmeralda Negron, 88), 7-Natasha Kai (15-Julianne Sitch, 81), 10-Carli Lloyd (13-Manya Makoski, 70).Subs not used: 6-Hayley Hunt, 18-Kati Jo Spisak.Head coach: Chris Petrucelli.

SWE: 1-Kristin Hammarstrom, 2-Nilla Fischer, 3-Frida Hoglund (5-Maria Nilsson, 74), 6-Anna Paulson, 7-Kristina Viklund (16-Maria Aronsson, 60), 8-Josefine Christensen, 9-Linda Forsberg (4-Maria Karlsson, 56), 10-Marie Hammarstrom, 13-Caroline Seeger, 15-Johanna Almgren (11-Anna Morstam, 46), 17-Emma Lindqvist (18-Maria Nordbrandt).Subs not used: N/AHead Coach:Helen Bastedt.

Story courtesy of U.S. Soccer

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