World Champion U.S. WNT Opens Victory Tour with 8-0 Win Against Costa Rica in Front of Record Crowd in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH (Aug. 16, 2015) – The World Champion U.S. Women’s National Team opened its Victory Tour in style with an 8-0 win against Costa Rica in front of a crowd of 44,028 at Heinz Field. The attendance set a record for the largest crowd for a stand-alone U.S. WNT match on home soil.
In a special homecoming, Pittsburgh native Meghan Klingenberg scored early in the second half, by which time the USA already held a substantial lead. Christen Press and Heather O’Reilly led the scoring for the USA with a hat trick and a pair of goals respectively. Defenders Julie Johnston and Whitney Engen also put their names on the scoresheet with header goals while Ashlyn Harris and Hope Solo split the goalkeeping duties for the shutout. Solo made three saves in the second half on Costa Rica’s only three shots.
The team entered the stadium to a rapturous standing ovation from the Heinz Field crowd and will likely see a similar scene when it next travels to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where it will face a rematch with Las Ticas before a sold-out crowd of more than 20,000 at Finlay Stadium on Aug. 19. That match kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.
After the double-header with Costa Rica, the USA continues its Victory Tour with a pair of matches against Australia, at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama on Sept. 17 and 20, respectively. From there the Victory Tour continues with a pair of games against Brazil in October before taking a break in November and then finishing with four matches in December. Dates and venues for those games will be announced in the near future.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Heather O’Reilly, 4th minute: As Costa Rica attempted to play out of the back, O’Reilly stripped a defender and raced into the Ticas’ penalty area. From the right side of the box, O’Reilly powered her show low into the near post past the wrong-footed ‘keeper for her 42nd international goal. USA 1, CRC 0 SEE GOAL
USA – Christen Press, 29th: Megan Rapinoe chipped the ball through the Costa Rica defense to Press inside the penalty area. After a nice collection that opened up space for a shot, Press saw her first, right-footed effort blocked by a defender but was first to the rebound and drilled a left-footed shot into the right side of the net. USA 2, CRC 0 SEE GOAL
USA – Julie Johnston (Megan Rapinoe), 36th minute: Megan Rapinoe whipped in a corner kick from the left side that found an unmarked Johnston steaming toward the near post. The U.S. center back sent a powerful header into the middle of the next past a falling Diaz for her fourth career goal. USA 3, CRC 0
USA – Christen Press, 45th minute: Press continued her offensive outburst as Rapinoe sent in another dangerous corner kick that connected with Shannon Boxx at the back post. Boxx sent a header back across goal that Diaz tried to swat away, but her clearance fell to the feet of Press in the center of the six-yard box and she slammed the ball home from close range just before the halftime whistle. USA 4, CRC 0
USA – Meghan Klingenberg (Tobin Heath), 56th minute: The Pittsburgh crowd erupted into a frenzy as second half substitute Tobin Heath carried the ball at pace down Costa Rica’s left side to the end line and cut the ball back into the middle of the box. Klingenberg ran onto the service and with a great bit of skill, redirected the ball with her left foot into the far side netting from 10 yards out. In a wild celebration, she ran to her teammates on the sideline, high-fived the whole bench and then grabbed a Pittsburgh Steelers Terrible Towel from U.S. head coach Jill Ellis before waving it aloft in tribute to her hometown fans. USA 5, CRC 0 ( SEE GOAL)
USA – Heather O’Reilly, 60th minute: Lori Chalupny got forward to play Christen Press into the right side of the Costa Rica penalty area. Press brought down the chipped pass, swiveled 180 degrees and sent a beautiful curling chip shot off the cross bar that fell to Heather O’Reilly who was crashing the back post. With the net wide open, O’Reilly had time to collect before smashing the ball home for the second multi-goal game of her career. USA 6, CRC 0
USA – Whitney Engen (Abby Wambach), 63rd minute: From yet another set piece, the USA targeted Wambach at the far post, and the world’s all-time leading goal scorer headed the ball down toward goal. As it bounced back up off the ground, Engen snuck in front of a waiting Diaz to snap a header into the back of the net for her fourth international goal. USA 7, CRC 0
USA – Christen Press (Heather O’Reilly), 68th minute: O’Reilly drove down the left flank and picked out Press who was making a delayed run into the Costa Rica box. With one deft touch, Press controlled the ball, stole a look at goal and then snapped a shot from near the top of the box into the upper left-hand corner of the goal to put the finishing touch on the second hat trick of her career and the day’s goal scoring. USA 8, CRC 0 (FINAL)
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
CRC – Dianna Diaz, 8th minute: With the USA threatening down Costa Rica’s right flank through some nifty combination play that nearly put Meghan Klingenberg in alone on goal, Diaz made a diving stop, charging out of her goal to smother the ball a step before Klingenberg arrived.
CRC – Dianna Diaz, 17th minute: Shannon Boxx unleashed a rocket from a wide angle on Diaz’s left that swerved toward the middle of the goal, but the Costa Rica goalkeeper punched the shot up over the crossbar to deny the U.S. adding to its early lead.
USA – Hope Solo, 50th minute: Solo has called into action right away after coming on at halftime. A chipped diagonal pass put Karla Villalobos in alone on goal. Solo charged out of the net, cut down the angle and got a piece of Villalobos’ shot, forcing it to skid wide of the left of the goal.
Next on the Schedule: The WNT continues the 2015 Victory Tour with a stop in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Aug. 19, where it will take on Costa Rica before a sold out crowd of over 20,000 at Finlay Stadium.
Broadcast information: ESPN2, WatchESPN (6:30 p.m. ET; Aug. 19)
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram
- Christen Press scored the second hat trick of her career. Her first came in a four-goal performance against Argentina at the International Tournament of Brasilia in December of 2014.
- Heather O’Reilly notched her second multi-goal game of her career. The first came on Jan. 20, 2012, when she scored a hat trick against the Dominican Republic during Olympic Qualifying.
- The 8-0 wins ties the USA biggest win in the history of its series with Costa Rica. The WNT beat the Ticas by the same score line on two previous occasions, in 2000 and 2012.
- The crowd of 44,028 at Heinz Field is the largest stand-alone attendance on home soil in the history of the U.S. WNT.
- Ashlyn Harris got the start for the USA in goal for the first time since pitching a 1-0 shutout against England in Milton Keynes in February of this year. Hope Solo replaced her in net for the U.S. at halftime.
- This is the first game of the year that Becky Sauerbrunn did not start for the USA. She had previously started all 17 matches, playing the most minutes on the team with 1,509.
- Veterans Shannon Boxx and Christie Rampone, who played all 90 minutes, both made their first starts of 2015. Boxx was removed at halftime for Morgan Brian.
- The USA remains perfect against Costa Rica, improving its all-time record to 11-0-0.
- Julie Johnston has scored all four of her WNT goals off set plays.
Ashlyn Harris grew up in Satellite Beach, Florida, a small, old-school beach town where “rule-breaking was just a part of living there.” She had an older brother who was twice her size and she wanted to be just like him. She ran with the pack of boys – skateboarding through town, playing Manhunt, surfing during storms, sneaking onto school roofs and into arboretums, constantly proving to the boys that she was tough enough to belong. In the soccer world she also ran with the boys, playing on all boys teams up until high school.
On the field, other teams would occasionally give her a hard time – at one tournament, Harris, her teammates and their families were at a nearby beach and a player from another team got in Ashlyn’s face and started calling her a boy. “He was trying to hurt my feelings,” says Ashlyn. One of Ashlyn’s best friends on the team, Nick, describes what happened next: “She picked up a dead catfish on the beach, a whole, rotting catfish. And she smacked him in the face with it. He was bleeding and cut – and everyone was like, ‘Serves your right.’” Nick adds, “We were protective of Ashlyn, but she could always protect herself.”
“I wasn’t going to go say, ‘Mom, people are making fun of me. I had to stand my ground. I had to take care of myself to gain the respect of the people around me,” says Harris.
THE THRILL-SEEKING MINDSET ON THE FIELD
“I still love the thrill,” says Harris. “I would definitely say I’m an aggressive goalkeeper. I’m fearless. I own it. In goalkeeping, you’re either the goat or the hero - you’re an easy target to blame – and I love that thrill, I throw myself into things like that. I love that pressure.
But the goalkeeping position has a catch-22 element. “Goalkeeping is all about experience,” says Harris. “But experience is hard to come by because once you’ve found your ‘keeper, you don’t really switch them in and out.” As a backup ‘keeper to Hope Solo, Ashlyn knew she had to find ways to get experience. Never one to back away from adventure, she went to Europe to get playing time, playing in Germany, playing in Sweden and trying anything.
THE FIRST COLLEGE GRADUATE
Her senior year of high school, she hid in her closet with her phone, talking with Anson Dorrance, coach of the University of North Carolina. She knew UNC only gave full scholarships to players on the full National Team. “I told Anson, ‘Listen, it’s always been my dream to come to UNC. But my parents aren’t in a position to pay for anything – I can’t ask them to help.’” And Anson said they’d find a way. I told him, “‘You won’t regret it, I will be the best student athlete I can be.’”
Fast-forward four years: Harris had a 3.3 GPA and was the first in her family to graduate from college. She also won three national championships with the Tar Heels.
TO WRITE LOVE ON OUR ARMS“There’s been addiction in my family, and it wasn’t always easy on my childhood,” said Harris. “I couldn’t take everything as a kid. I learned to speak to other people.” Ashlyn shares her story and is heavily involved with To Write Love On Her Arms, a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. To learn more, check out the website: www.twloha.com.
U.S. National Team: One of the best young goalkeepers in the world at the 2002 and 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cups, she suffered several major injuries during her college career and didn’t get her first call-up to the WNT until her final season at North Carolina in 2009.
2015: 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champion... Named to the 2015 U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster, her first World Cup selection ... Played and started in the first two matches of the year for the WNT... Earned her second career shutout in a 1-0 victory over England on Feb. 13... Member of the roster that captured the USA's 10th Algarve Cup after defeating France 2-0 on March 11... 2014: Played in two matches and earned her first career shutout in a 6-0 win against Haiti during the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship … 2013: Made her long-awaited senior team debut against Sweden on March 11 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, helping the USA to a 1-1 draw … Earned her second cap against the Netherlands during a 3-1 win on April 9 in The Hague … 2012: Did not play in a game, but did train in numerous camps with the U.S. WNT … 2011: Trained extensively with the U.S. team in the run-up to the Women’s World Cup … 2010: Got her second call-up to an extended training camp in Kennesaw, Ga., after the WPS season, and worked her way into the goalkeeping mix for the USA … Youth National Teams: Played every minute of all 12 matches for the USA over the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Canada and the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand … The youngest starter on the team that won the inaugural U-19 Women’s World Cup in 2002, she made several key saves during the 1-0 overtime win in the title game … Was the captain of the 2004 U-19 Women’s World Cup Team that finished third … Finished her U-19 international career with 39 caps, one of the highest totals in U.S. history … Was also the starting goalkeeper for the USA in both CONCACAF qualifying tournaments for those youth World Cups … Played for the U.S. U-23/U-21s in 2009, 2006 and 2003, when she helped the U-21s win the Nordic Cup title in Denmark as the starting goalkeeper … During 2000 at the age of 15, she played with the U.S. U-16, U-17 and U-19 teams … Attended the U.S. U-14 I.D. camp in 1999 … First Appearance: March 11, 2013, vs. Sweden … First Shutout: Oct. 20, 2014, vs. Haiti.
Professional / Club – 2014: Played every minute of all 19 games she started … Had a 10-5-4 record and one of only three goalkeepers in the NWSL to reach 10 or more wins … Recorded four shutouts in helping lead the Spirit to an NWSL playoff berth … 2013: Played every minute of all 18 starts she made for the Washington Spirit, putting in an admirable effort while making 85 saves as the Spirit endured a difficult season … Following the NWSL season, she signed on loan with Damallsvenskan club Tyresö … She started seven league matches for Tyresö and four UEFA Champions League matches, helping the club into the quarterfinal round after two-leg victories over Paris Saint-Germain (she put in a particularly excellent performance in the second leg of the Round of 32 series) and Fortuna of Denmark (Round of 16) … 2012: Allocated to the Washington Spirit for the inaugural season of the NWSL … In June, she signed with FCR 2001 Duisburg in the Women’s Bundesliga … Played eight matches with Duisburg in 2012 before the winter break, seven Bundesliga games (630 minutes) and one German Cup game (120 including extra time), before the Spirit reached a mutual agreement with Duisburg for her release to start the NWSL season in Washington … 2011: Signed with the Western New York Flash for the 2011 WPS season and put in a stellar performance, earning WPS Goalkeeper of the Year honors while helping the club to the regular season title and championship in its first year of existence … Made several key saves in the championship game victory over Philadelphia, including stopping the Independence’s fifth and final penalty kick during the shootout to clinch the title for the Flash … She played every minute of all 18 regular season games while compiling a 13-2-3 record and a 1.00 GAA, which was tops in the league … She tied for the league lead in shutouts with five … 2010: Taken in the second round of the 2010 WPS Draft, 19th overall, by the St. Louis Athletica, but did not play in a match as she backed up Hope Solo … She signed with the Washington Freedom as a free agent in June after St. Louis folded and played a key role in the team’s playoff run, starting the final nine matches in relief of injured goalkeeper Erin McLeod … She went 4-3-2 with four shutouts, making 36 saves and allowing 10 goals … Made six saves in an excellent performance in the Freedom’s playoff match against Philadelphia Independence … Youth Club: Played club soccer with boys until the age of 14 ... First teams were the Palm Bay Rangers and South Brevard United ... Played for the Seminole Ice girls for three seasons ... Won the state championship in 2003 with the U-17 Indialantic Force.