U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN FINISH MINI-CAMP, DEPART FOR NORWAY TODAY: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team finished up a three-day mini-camp at the University of Rhode Island this morning with a one-hour training session in running shoes that consisted of jogging, stretching and some fitness. U-21 head coach Jerry Smith brought 20 players into Kingtson, Rhode Island in preparation for the Nordic Cup, the top competition in the world for U-21 women that will be contested in Norway from July 25-31. The U.S. team will bus from Rhode Island to the Newark, N.J. International Airport on Friday afternoon, where they will catch a 7:10 p.m. flight to Oslo, arriving in Norway on July 21 with four days to prepare for its opening match against Iceland on July 25. The team will bus 100 kilometers from Oslo to its base in Gjovik, where the USA will spend 10 days. The USA held five training sessions over three days on the soccer game field of the URI Rams, walking 10 minutes through the wooded campus to and from the fields, and drove yesterday to the Boston suburbs to play a match against the Boston Renegades of the W-League.
FINAL ROSTER CHOSEN: Smith finalized his Nordic Cup roster of 18 players on Friday somewhat by attrition, sending home forwards Christie Welsh (Massapeaqua Park, N.Y./Penn State), who took ill during the camp, and Alyssa Ramsey (Charlotte, N.C./UNC), who suffered a knee injury vs. the Boston Renegades. The 2001 Nordic Cup roster is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Emily Oleksiuk, Hope Solo;
Defenders: Jena Kluegel, Anna Kraus, Cat Reddick, Ally Marquand, Casey Zimny, Danielle Borgman;
Midfielders: Lori Chalupny, Erin Misaki, Jill Oaks, Lori Lindsey, Aleisha Cramer, Devvyn Hawkins;
Forwards: Laura Schott, Katie Barnes, Anne Morrell, Abby Wambach.
NORDIC CUP SCHEDULE: The Americans open the tournament against Iceland on July 25 at Gjovik Stadium (Kickoff 4:30 p.m. Local Time/10:30 a.m. ET). The USA will then play Denmark on July 27 at Raufoss Stadium (7:00 p.m. Local Time/1:00 p.m. ET) and finish first-round play against Germany on July 29 at Dokka Stadium (Kickoff 4:30 p.m. Local Time/10:30 a.m. ET). The USA will play a placement match on July 31. Canada, Finland, Sweden and Norway make up the other group. The group winners will play for the championship.
U-21s DRAW 2-2 WITH BOSTON RENEGADES: The U.S. U-21s drove to Newton, Mass. on Thursday afternoon to play an exhibition match against the Boston Renegades, one of the United Soccer League's W-League leaders. The match, played at Mount Ida College, drew a small but boisterous crowd of 200 fans at the picturesque campus. The USA out-shot the Renegades 26-7 but had to settle for a 2-2 draw. Laura Schott (Wilsonville, Ore./UC Berkeley) opened the scoring for the USA in the 40th minute off an assist from 17-year-old Lori Chalpuny (St. Louis, Mo./JB Marine). The USA dominated the match, but gave up two goals against the run of play on counter-attacks in the 72nd and 77th minutes. A furious end-of-game rush by the USA produced an equalizer as second-half substitute Abby Wambach (Pittsford, N.Y./Florida) pulled the U.S. even in the 90th minute, sliding to the knock the ball into the left corner from 15 yards out off an assist from Jill Oaks (West Hills, Calif./Santa Anita Strikers). The USA lineup was: Hope Solo, Ally Marquand, Anna Kraus, Cat Reddick, Jena Kluegel, Jill Oaks, Lori Chalupny, Erin Misaki, Alyssa Ramsey (Katie Barnes), Laura Schott, Anne Morrell (Abby Wambach).
USA LOSES RAMSEY: The U-21s, which lost four players before the mini-camp even started, two to injuries and two to school commitments, lost another player when forward Alyssa Ramsey injured her knee against the Renegades. Early in the second half, Ramsey slid to reach for a cross on the ground at the near post and collided with the defender. She had to be helped from the field. The severity of the injury will not be known until after she has an MRI.
CH-CH-CHANGES: U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team head coach Jerry Smith was forced to change four players on his 20-woman pre-Nordic Cup roster that came to the University of Rhode Island. Two UCLA players had to withdraw from the roster as midfielder Mary-Frances Monroe was forced to bow out due to summer school commitments while forward Stephanie Rigamat had work commitments. Smith also lost two Santa Clara University players due to lingering injuries as forward Veronica Zepeda's (shin splints) and midfielder Aly Wagner (knee) were ruled out of the Nordic Cup. In addtion, two players who would have likely been a part of the roster, defender Nandi Pryce (Casselberry, Fla./UCLA) and 2000 Olympian Danielle Slaton (San Jose, Calif./Santa Clara) are using the summer to recover from injuries. Smith replaced Monroe with 17-year old Jill Oaks (West Hills, Calif./Valley United) and Anne Morrell (Plymouth, Mich./Michigan Hawks) took Rigamat's spot on the roster. Forward Laura Schott (Wilsonville, Ore./UC Berkeley) took Zepeda's spot and Lori Chalupny (Chesterfield, Mo./J.B. Marine) filled the vacancy left by Wagner. The roster takes a hit with the changes as Monroe, Wagner and Zepeda were all a part of the USA's Nordic Cup championship team last year in Germany, but both Schott and Chalupny were a part of the USA's Algarve Cup team last March and Morrell is one of the top young forwards in the country. Both Oakes and Chalupny were a part of the USA's U-19 squad that beat Canada 1-0 and 11-1 in two games in Canada at the end of June.
DORM LIFE: The college upperclassmen among the U.S. players were reacquainted with dorm life as the U.S. team stayed in the dorms during the three-day mini-camp at URI. The players took over a wing of Barlow Hall, a new dorm, which provided more than adequate accommodations. The only twist was that the players ate their meals at a campus dining hall along with 900 or so 13 and 14-year old female soccer players attending Region I regional camp, meaning the players experienced numerous autograph requests, more than a few inquiries of "Do you know Mia Hamm?", at least one "Are you Mia Hamm?" as well as several well wishes of "Good luck in Norway!."
OAKES TURNS 17: Midfield Jill Oakes celebrated her 17th birthday on July 18 while in Rhode Island with the U.S. U-21s. Oakes, who along with Lori Chalupny, figure into the plans for U-19 head coach Tracey Leone for the first-ever FIFA U-19 World Championships in 2002, becomes one of the youngest players ever to make a Nordic Cup roster.
AVERAGE AGE: The average age of the U.S. roster for the Under-21 Nordic Cup is 19.6 years. Jill Oakes is the youngest player at 17 while Jena Kluegel is the oldest at 21, and is one of the two "overage" players allowed on the Nordic Cup rosters. Smith chose to bring just one "overage" player.
STAT OF NOTE: At age 18, Aleisha Cramer is the leader in Under-21 caps on this Nordic Cup roster, having played 14 full internationals at the U-21 level. She is also the leader in full national team caps, having played 13 times for the U.S. Women's National Team.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Midfielder Lori Lindsey revealing that she had some serious hair issues in the 5th grade: "I had a mullet. I got it cut, but they turned it into a bowl cut. My mom didn't like it so she made me get a perm. It was a tragic period in my life."