HERAKLIO, Greece (August 23, 2004) – The U.S. Women’s National Team put in a gutsy and at times dominating performance to defeat 2003 Women’s World Cup champion Germany, winning 2-1 behind a dramatic overtime goal from 19-year-old forward Heather O’Reilly in the 99th minute after she had hit the post just five minutes earlier.
The win put the USA into the gold medal match against Brazil in Athens on Thursday, Aug. 26. Brazil defeated Sweden, 1-0, in the other semifinal behind a 64th minute goal from Pretinha. The gold medal game will be broadcast live at 2 p.m. ET on NBC and Telemundo except on the West Coast, which can view the game at 2 p.m. PT on tape delay.
Midfielder Kristine Lilly, who put in a commanding performance, opened the scoring for the USA with her third goal in the last three games, volleying home a clever flick from Abby Wambach in the 33rd minute.
The U.S. was in control for the rest of the match, maintaining solid possession and creating numerous scoring opportunities, but with the game seemingly in hand and the seconds ticking away during the five minutes of stoppage time, the Americans conceded an unfortunate equalizer to Isabelle Bachor in the 92nd minute. The goal was the second of just two shots on goal for Germany in the entire match as the U.S. defense shut down the vaunted German attack, including reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Birgit Prinz.
Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, the match moved to two 15-minute overtime periods (as the golden goal was eliminated by FIFA before this tournament) and that set the stage for a character-filled U.S. team and for O’Reilly, who at 19 is the youngest player on the Olympic Team. She scored the winning goal by darting through the penalty area and getting on the end of a Mia Hamm service to slip a shot through traffic and into the left side of the net for just her fourth career international goal, and without a doubt, the most important.
Both teams came out attacking from the outset with Lilly sending in a ball to U.S. captain Julie Foudy early on at the back post, but it was headed away. Germany came back just moments later with Prinz intercepting a clearance and immediately serving a ball down the left flank to forward Conny Pohlers. The slick Pohlers took a touch toward goal, but Brandi Chastain came all the way over from her left back position to tackle the ball off Pohlers and out for a goal kick.
Germany had the first shot of the match when midfielder Kristen Garefrekes dribbled through the midfield and rolled a square ball to Pia Wunderlich at the top of the penalty box, but she blasted a shot wide left.
The USA’s first shot came from Foudy in the 9th minute. She tracked down a ball from Shannon Boxx on the right flank and cut hard back to her left to beat a defender inside the box, but lifted her left-footed shot over the crossbar.
The U.S. had a good free kick opportunity in the 21st minute as Wambach was fouled by Viola Oderbecht about 10 yards outside the box. Hamm sent the ball to the far post looking for Chastain, but Garefrekes headed it out for a corner. On the corner, Lilly’s in-swinger was cleared out to the top of the box, where Hamm uncorked a shot that sailed high.
The U.S. had it its first of two great scoring chances in a three-minute span in the 26th minute when Wambach threaded a pass to midfielder Lindsay Tarpley at the top of the penalty area. Tarpley’s great touch allowed her to slip between two German defenders in the box, but she couldn’t enough on her shot though with a defender on her back and the ball rolled to German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg.
Two minutes later, Wambach had a golden opportunity to put the U.S. ahead, thundering into the right side of the penalty area to track down a long ball from Chastain and rushing in alone on goal, but the ball took an inopportune bounce just as she struck it, and it sailed just high and wide of the right post.
The U.S. finally broke through in the 33rd minute, and it was a fantastic goal. Chastain got possession of the ball on the left side of the penalty area and struck a hard cross on the ground to the top of the box. Wambach quickly flicked the ball in the path of an onrushing Lilly, who one-timed a volley from seven yards out off the right hand of Rottenberg and into the net to make it 1-0.
With goals in the 1-1 tie with Australia on Aug. 17 and the 2-0 win over Brazil on Aug. 20, Lilly now sits at 98 all-time international goals.
The U.S. was the victim of a shocking non-call in the in the 38th minute as Hamm raced to track down a long ball from Lilly and touched it past the beaten Rottenberg, who chopped Hamm down in the left side of the penalty area. Much to the dismay of the U.S. team, referee Krystyna Szokolai of Australia gave only a corner kick.
The U.S. finished the half thwarting a few German forays, but nothing that resulted in dangerous scoring opportunities.
The first action of the second half came in the 53rd minute when the U.S. had a flurry in front of the German goal but could not punch the ball in. With a wonderful dribbling run, Hamm beat two defenders straight down the end line in the left side of the penalty box. Hamm played a short pass that was blocked but skimmed into the six-yard box to Joy Fawcett, whose point-blank shot at the near post was saved off the foot of a seated Rottenberg. Fawcett quickly knocked the rebound to her right, but the ball was cleared before the U.S. could punch it into the net from point-blank range.
The U.S. lost team captain Julie Foudy in the 60th minute when Bachor stepped on her right foot while trying to block a clearance. Foudy tried to go, but could not, and was replaced by Aly Wagner in the 65th minute. Wagner finished the game in midfield with some gutsy running and great ball possession for the USA. Foudy will be evaluated further tomorrow.
The USA pushed for a clinching goal in the latter part of regulation as Hamm created a good chance in the 68th minute, taking her defender to the end line, cutting it back to her right foot and ripping a shot that sailed just wide of the far post.
Hamm had another great chance in the 75th minute, running onto a bouncing ball from Wagner and cracked a left-footed shot to the near post that Rottenberg palmed wide.
Germany’s only real chance in the second half came on a free kick from the left flank in the 77th minute, with Renate Lingor sending a ball over the wall, but U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry dove to her right to smother the ball.
Lilly almost grabbed a second goal in the 80th minute, running on to a ball that O’Reilly had laid back and smacking a shot that ricocheted off the leg of German defender Steffi Jones and off the crossbar. Wambach tried a falling volley with the rebound, but hit the ball wide right.
To Germany’s credit, they did not give up, and got their equalizer two minutes into stoppage time. Bachor dribbled into the left side of the penalty area and cut back on U.S. defender Christie Rampone, who was practically unbeatable on the night. She got just enough space for a shot, which was headed right into the hands of Scurry, until it took a deflection of the hip of the retreating Joy Fawcett and bounced into the left side of the net.
After being marked out of the game for most of regulation by defender Kate Markgraf and the rest of the U.S. defense, Prinz created her first bit of danger in the second minute of overtime, cutting into the right side of the box and sending a low cross that Fawcett blocked out for a corner at the near post.
The U.S. almost scored in the fourth minute of overtime as Rottenberg raced out to clear a ball with her feet in the right corner of the penalty area, but totally missed as it bounced through her legs. O’Reilly pounced on the opportunity running onto the rolling ball, but with an open goal, the youngster bent her left-footed shot from a tough angle off the left post and out.
O’Reilly made up for her miss a few minutes later converting on a trademark Hamm assist. Hamm took a pass from Wambach and exploded into the penalty area on the right side. She cut towards the goal then played her pass on the ground into the middle, where O’Reilly found her way between two defenders and sliced the ball into the left corner from six yards out. Rottenberg, who was guarding the near post, sucked there by Hamm, could only turn and watch the ball roll in.
O’Reilly pressured the German goal again in the 114th minute when she tracked down a long ball from Wagner in the left side of the penalty area. She cut back into the middle beating Sandra Minnert, and made space for her shot, but her driven blast was parried up in the air by Rottenberg before she gobbled it up.
Germany had a few half-chances as the second overtime period ended, but nothing that really troubled Scurry. Lingor had a dangerous free kick at the end, but the exhausted midfielder slapped her shot wide right of the goal from 25 yards out. Prinz tried to take advantage of an opportunistic moment when a pass into the box flicked off the heel of Hamm into her path, but she sent her shot wide left in the 117th minute. It was the last chance that Germany had, as the U.S. successfully killed off the remaining time and celebrated despite complete exhaustion at the final whistle.
The match reversed the result of the semifinal at the 2003 Women’s World Cup when Germany knocked the USA to the third-place match with a heart-breaking 3-0 win.
The U.S. team will travel to Athens tomorrow in preparation for the gold medal match on Thursday. The USA spent three days in Athens at the beginning of the tournament before departing for the outlying venues of Heraklio and Thessaloniki for its three first-round matches and two knockout games.
The match will be the first world championship final for Brazil, and the fifth for the USA, who had now made it the gold medal match in all three Olympic Games in which women’s soccer has been contested. The USA scored two second-half goals to defeat Brazil, 2-0, in the second match of group play on Aug. 14 in Thessaloniki.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Germany
Competition: 2004 Olympics – Semifinal
Venue: Pankritio Stadium; Heraklio, Greece
Date: August 23, 2004; Kickoff – 6 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET
Weather: 82 degrees; clear
1 2 1OT 2OT F
USA 1 0 1 0 2
GER 0 1 0 0 1
USA – Kristine Lilly (Abby Wambach) 33rd minute.
GER – Isabelle Bachor (n/a) 92nd+
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Mia Hamm) 99th
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 3-Christie Rampone, 15-Kate Markgraf, 14-Joy Fawcett, 6-Brandi Chastain (4-Cat Reddick, 51); 7-Shannon Boxx, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (17-Heather O’Reilly, 75), 11-Julie Foudy (Capt.; 10-Aly Wagner, 65), 13-Kristine Lilly; 20-Abby Wambach, 9-Mia Hamm.
Subs Not Used: 2-Heather Mitts, 8-Angela Hucles, 12-Cindy Parlow, 18-Kristin Luckenbill.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs.
GER: 1-Silke Rottenberg; 2-Kerstin Stegemann, 4-Steffi Jones, 13-Sandra Minnert, 17-Ariane Hingst; 3-Kerstin Garefrekes, 6-Viola Oderbrecht (15-Sonja Fuss, 71), 7-Pia Wunderlich (14-Isabell Bachor, 39), 10-Renate Lingor; 9-Birgit Prinz (Capt.), 16-Conny Pohlers (11-Martina Mueller, 58).
Subs Not Used: 18-Nadine Angerer; 5-Sarah Guenther, 12-Navina Omilade, 8-Petra Wimbersky.
Head Coach: Tina Thune-Meyer.
Shots: 14 12
Shots on Goal: 8 2
Saves: 1 5
Corner Kicks: 7 5
Fouls: 11 10
Offside: 3 3
USA – Julie Foudy (caution) 22nd minute.
USA – Kate Markgraf (caution) 34th
GER – Isabelle Bachor (caution) 41st
USA – Aly Wagner (caution) 77th
USA – Briana Scurry (caution) 86th
Referee: Krystyna Szokolai (Australia)
Asst. Referee #1: Airlie Keen (Australia)
Asst. Referee #2: Jacqueline Leleu (Australia)
4th Official: Dagmar Damkova (Czech Republic)