SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Feb. 25, 2004) - The U.S. Women's National Team opened the CONCACAF Final Round Olympic Women's Qualifying Tournament with a dominating 7-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago as Shannon Boxx recorded the first hat trick of her international career.
Mia Hamm added two goals and two assists, Kristine Lilly picked up a goal and an assist while Abby Wambach scored once and had two assists. Boxx, Hamm, Lilly and Wambach accounted for all the goals and assists in the first half as the USA put the game out of reach with six scores, doubling the number of goals the team scored in the entire game against T&T in qualifying for the 2003 Women's World Cup.
The USA was in total control throughout, piling up a 27-1 shot margin, but could not find the net until the 22nd minute. Then the goals came in a torrent as the USA scored five in 20 minutes including three in a four-minute span at the end of the first half as the T&T bunker crumbled.
"I'm really pleased with our team's approach to this game," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "We've worked hard for the last few weeks and they got rewarded for that. They were determined to play patient soccer, to mix it up and be very unpredictable. Obviously, there was a spurt of goals in the middle of the first half where we showed we could be dangerous from both flanks, from the run of play and from set plays, so it becomes very difficult for a team to shut us down."
T&T came out in a 4-5-1 formation and was committed to hard tackling and low-pressure defense on the hot, dry field at Estadio Nacional, but the Americans stayed patient and Boxx opened the scoring 22 minutes into the game. The goal started from a corner kick on the left side. The cross was headed up in the air and Wambach nodded the falling ball back to Boxx, who hit it first time, bouncing her 18-yard shot into the left corner to start her trifecta.
"I think a younger team, or maybe this team a year and half ago, may have gotten frustrated with going at T&T the way we did and not being rewarded with a goal," added Heinrichs. "But at the 20-minute mark, we really settled in and just kept pursuing scoring opportunities in variety of ways and eventually we broke through."
Three minutes later after Boxx's goal, Lilly notched her 94th career international score on a patented left-footed drive from 30 yards out that whipped by T&T goalkeeper Nicole Mitchell and into the left corner of the net.
T&T's best chance came in the 33rd minute when Tasha St. Louis dispossessed a U.S. defender in the back and played Jinelle James free into the left side of the penalty area. James shot hard at the near post, but U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry, with her only save of the day, coolly pushed the blast away for a corner kick.
Boxx added her second of the game in the 37th minute, slicing through traffic to head home Hamm's corner kick from five yards out.
Boxx returned the favor in the 41st minute, lofting a ball over the T&T defense to Hamm, who gathered herself at the top of the penalty area and then drilled a full volley into the left corner from 18 yards out that left Mitchell flat-footed.
One minute later, Lilly hit a driven corner kick in the penalty area that was met by the slashing Wambach, who powered her header into the roof of the net from close range. It was Wambach's 16th international goal in just 26 games.
Two minutes after that, Lindsay Tarpley freed Wambach into the left side of the penalty area with a well timed pass. The U.S. forward dribbled at the goal, then rolled the ball across the goalmouth to the sliding Hamm, who touched the ball into the net at the far post from two yards out for her 146th career international goal.
The last three goals of the first half came on three consecutive shots.
"It was a great start to the tournament for us because the last time we played T&T, they packed it in so deep, that we had trouble solving their bunker," said Heinrichs. "They still have great closing speed and organization, but part of the difference today was that they came out away from their goal and we were just dynamic in the attacking third."
Heinrichs started almost the same lineup that the USA used predominately at the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, making a change of inserting Mia Hamm for Shannon MacMillan. Heinrichs made two substitutions at halftime, sending on Aly Wagner and Leslie Osborne, and both would have eventful 45 minutes.
Just four minutes into the half, Canadian referee Jillian Proctor stopped the match, walked over to talk with the fourth official, and then yellow carded both Wagner and Osborne for allegedly not checking into the match properly. The highly unusual yellow cards could come back to hurt the USA as two yellow cards in this tournament earns a one-game suspension.
Osborne had a scary moment in the 60th minute on a wild sequence that started when MacMillan, who had just come on seconds earlier for Wambach, cracked a bending free kick off the underside of the crossbar from just outside the elbow on the left side of the penalty area. The ball took a crazy bounce high in the air and Osborne bravely challenged for it, winning the header, but at the same time cracking heads with St. Louis. The ball flew to the far post, where Cat Reddick almost scored if not for another good save from Mitchell.
"The goalkeeper for Trinidad & Tobago was outstanding in the second half," said Heinrichs. "She saved five or six goals just by herself."
Osborne got the worse of the collision, suffering a gushing, bloody, two-inch gash on her forward above her left eye that required six stitches to close. Osborne left the field and the U.S. team, which had already made all three of its allowable substitutions, played with 10 players for the next 21 minutes. After getting stitches and with a large bandage around her head, Osborne returned to the field and played the final five minutes of regulation and four minutes of stoppage time.
The match got a bit nasty in the second half as the tiring Trinidadians committed some hard fouls that were called and some that weren't. The USA kept its composure and Boxx completed her hat trick in the 81st minute on a spectacular play that was started by Lilly. She drove a long cross from the left wing over a packed defense to Hamm in the right side of the penalty area. Hamm collected the ball, sliced past a defender and with a good angle to shoot with her left foot, unselfishly laid the ball back to Wagner. On a full run, Wagner cracked a shot that was deflected off a defender's leg, off the cross bar and then rebounded back out to the top of the penalty area, where Boxx drilled a first time shot from the right side of the penalty arc across the 'keeper and into the left corner. The three goals marked Boxx's first multiple goal game for the USA and she now has eight career goals in just 13 matches.
"I was really just in the right place at the right time today," said Boxx. "Over the next few games I'll continue to work on my defense and if I get another goal, that's great, but once we built a big lead, one thing we know is never to get comfortable. T&T came at us a few times when relaxed, and we didn't want that, we wanted the shutout. We wanted to make sure defensively, we stayed solid."
In the other Group B match, Mexico downed Haiti, 5-0, as Patricia Perez registered a true hat trick and Maribel Dominguez added the final two goals after the 80th minute. Former Notre Dame and Boston Breakers defender Monica Gonzales captained the Mexican side.
The USA will take on Haiti in its second Group B match on Friday at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia, a suburb of San Jose. The match kicks off at 8:00 p.m. CT and can be followed live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics. The top two finishers in this tournament qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Competition: CONCACAF Final Round Women's Olympic Qualifying
Venue: Estadio Nacional; San Jose, Costa Rica
Date: Feb. 25, 2004; Kickoff - 3:00 p.m. CT
Weather: Hot, breezy - 81 degrees
1 2 F
USA 6 1 7
TTO 0 0 0
USA - Shannon Boxx (Abby Wambach) 22nd minute.
USA - Kristine Lilly (Mia Hamm) 25.
USA - Shannon Boxx (Mia Hamm) 37.
USA - Mia Hamm (Shannon Boxx) 41.
USA - Abby Wambach (Kristine Lilly) 42.
USA - Mia Hamm (Abby Wambach) 44.
USA - Shannon Boxx (Aly Wagner) 81.
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 15-Kate Markgraff, 14-Joy Fawcett, 4-Cat Reddick, 3-Christie Rampone; 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Julie Foudy - Capt. (5-Leslie Osborne, 46), 13-Kristine Lilly, 16-Lindsay Tarpley (10-Aly Wagner, 46); 20-Abby Wambach (8-Shannon MacMillan, 60 ), 9-Mia Hamm.
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Cat Reddick, 6-Amy LePeilbet, 12-Cindy Parlow, 17-Heather O'Reilly, 18-Siri Mullinix, 19-Angela Hucles.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs
TTO: 1-Nicole Mitchell; 2-Janelle Noel, 3-Raeann Elder, 5-Nadia James, 7-Jinelle James (17-Natalie Des Vignes, 75), 8-Regina McGee, 9-Maylee Attin-Johnson (6-Niasha Reyes, 71), 10-Tasha St. Louis, 11-Kathy-Ann Nixon - Capt., 12-Ahkeela Mollon, 16-Leslie Ann James, 18-Terrie Lisa John.
Subs not used: 4-Sedonna Agard, 19-Katrina Meyer, 20-Lisa Jo Ramkissoon, 13-Aveann Douglas, 14-Tanekar Alexander, 15-Jenelle Nedd.
Head Coach: Jamaal Shabazz
Shots on Goal: 18/1
Corner Kicks: 12/2
USA - Aly Wagner (caution) 49th minute
USA - Leslie Osborne (caution) 49.
TTO - Maylee Attin-Johnson (caution) 69.
Referee: Jillian Proctor (Canada)
Assistant: Referee: Jackeline Saez (Panama)
Assistant: RefereeL Azucena Aguilera (Honduras)
4th Official: Diane Ferreira James (Guyana)
CONCACAF FINALROUND WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING STANDINGS
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
CAN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PAN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
JAM 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CRI 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
USA 1 0 0 3 7 0 +7
MEX 1 0 0 3 5 0 +5
HTI 0 1 0 0 0 5 -5
TTO 0 1 0 0 0 7 -7
WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING RESULTS
Wednesday, February 25
Mexico 5, Haiti 0
USA 7, Trinidad & Tobago 0
Thursday, February 26
Canada vs. Jamaica Eladio Rosabal Cordero (6:00 p.m. CT)
Costa Rica vs. Panama Eladio Rosabal Cordero (8:00 p.m. CT)
Friday, February 27
T & T vs. Mexico Eladio Rosabal Cordero (6:00 p.m. CT)
Haiti vs. USA Eladio Rosabal Cordero (8:00 p.m. CT)
Saturday, February 28
Canada vs. Panama Nacional (1:00 p.m. CT)
Costa Rica vs. Jamaica Nacional (3:00 p.m. CT)
Sunday, February 29
Haiti vs. Trinidad & Tobago Nacional (1:00 p.m. CT)
USA vs. Mexico Nacional (3:00 p.m. CT)
Monday, March 1
Jamaica vs. Panama Eladio Rosabal Cordero (6:00 p.m. CT)
Costa Rica vs. Canada Eladio Rosabal Cordero (8:00 p.m. CT)
Wednesday, March 3
Semifinal #1 (A1 vs. B2) Nacional (12:00 Noon CT)
Semifinal #2 (B1 vs. A2) Nacional (2:30 p.m. CT)
Friday, March 5
Third-Place Eladio Rosabal Cordero (6:00 p.m. CT)
Final Eladio Rosabal Cordero (8:00 p.m. CT)
WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING SCORERS
Player Team Goals
Shannon Boxx USA 3
Patricia Perez Mexico 3
Maribel Dominguez Mexico 2
Mia Hamm USA 2
Kristine Lilly USA 1
Abby Wambach USA 1