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U.S. WOMEN???S NATIONAL TEAM QUALIFIES FOR 2008 BEIJING OLYMPICS WITH 3-0 VICTORY OVER COSTA RICA


U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM QUALIFIES FOR
2008 BEIJING OLYMPICS WITH 3-0 VICTORY OVER COSTA RICA

- Kai Leads the Way With Two Goals in the Second Half
- O’Reilly Adds Goal as USA Will Compete in Fourth Consecutive Olympics
- Canada Defeats Mexico, 1-0, To Earn CONCACAF’s Second Berth to Beijing 2008
- USA to Play Canada in Championship Game on Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 MT

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (April 9, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Team rebounded from a frustrating first half to score three second half goals – two by Natasha Kai – and clinch a spot in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a 3-0 victory over Costa Rica in the semifinal of 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Women’s Qualifying.

Costa Rica came into the match with the tactical plan to play low pressure defense and keep a low defensive restraining line, packing its defensive third with players and making it extremely difficult for the USA to find space in goal scoring positions.

In the first 45 minutes, the U.S. struggled mightily to find a rhythm against the committed Costa Ricans, who defended very well inside their own penalty box, and the Americans were not sharp on the few chances they did create. Lori Chalupny was one of the USA’s main attacking weapons in the first half, repeatedly getting around the corner on the left side, but her crosses could not find a U.S. player. While Costa Rica rarely threatened the USA’s goal, the half ended with a surprising 0-0 score line.

With just one goal needed to change the game, the USA put together some excellent attacking soccer after the break. Heather O’Reilly, aided by halftime substitute Tobin Heath, terrorized the flanks as the USA pounded away at the Costa Rica goal, forcing the Ticas to drop even deeper into its own half, setting up its back line just a few steps above the penalty arc. The USA took full advantage of the stretched out field and finally broke through the mass of red jerseys in the 57th minute.

Heath got around the defense on the left side, as she would the entire half, and cut a ball back on the ground to Kai. The U.S. forward smacked her shot hard on frame from 10 yards out, but it initially looked as if Ticas goalkeeper Priscilla Tapia had made the save. The ball had enough steam on it, though, that it slipped through her hands and rolled across the goal line into the lower right corner.

Two minutes later Shannon Boxx sent a header hard off the crossbar near the upper right corner and the USA was on its way.

The second goal came in the 72nd minute as Carli Lloyd sent in a free kick from the left wing. Kai got her head on the ball, but sent it looping high in the air toward the goal. Tapia went up to grab the ball right on the goal line, but as she came down, fumbled it and O’Reilly stuffed it into the net from just a foot away. It was O’Reilly’s 19th international goal.

Young forward Amy Rodriguez came off the bench in the 74th minute and gave the USA an offensive spark in the final 15 minutes. Her running created the final goal as substitute Angela Hucles played her down the right wing. Rodriguez raced around a defender and chipped a pass back to Hucles, who had continued her run, and the U.S. midfielder brought the ball down about 10 yards from the goal at the right elbow of the goal box. Hucles coolly played a square pass right into the path of Kai, who slammed her shot into the right side of the net from eight yards away to finish the scoring in the 89th minute. The two goals gave Kai four for the tournament and 14 for her career.

Rodriguez almost got a goal of her own, getting behind the defense in the 90th minute and looping a shot over Tapia, but it bounced just left of the goal.

Costa Rica had two good chances in the match, the first coming in the 68th minute when Amara Wilson drew a nice diving save from U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo. Two minutes from time, a well-struck Costa Rica free kick skipped into the box and bounced off Solo’s chest as she was buried underneath two Costa Rican attackers, but the USA was able to clear before a Tica could get a foot to the rebound.

The USA defeated Costa Rica in the semifinal of the Olympic qualifying tournament four years ago to earn a berth to Athens 2004, winning 4-0 in that match in San Jose, Costa Rica.

The USA will play Canada in the championship game of the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Saturday, April 12, with a kickoff at 7:30 p.m. MT. Canada made a first-half goal stand up to win 1-0 and disappoint another packed stadium at Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez, earning its first-ever berth to the Olympics in women’s soccer.

U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Costa Rica
Competition: 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Semifinal
Venue: Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez; Juarez, Mexico
Date: April 9, 2008; Kickoff – 5:00 p.m. MT
Attendance: 22,280 (Sell-Out)
Weather: Windy and blowing dust – 73 degrees

Scoring Summary:
1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
CRC 0 0 0

USA – Nastaha Kai (Tobin Heath) 57th minute.
USA – Heather O’Reilly (Natasha Kai) 72.
USA – Natasha Kai (Anglea Jucles) 89.

Lineups:
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 14-Stephanie Cox, 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 4-Cat Whitehill, 17-Lori Chalupny; 9-Heather O’Reilly (16-Angela Hucles, 83), 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (13-Tobin Heath, 46); 6-Natasha Kai, 20-Abby Wambach (19-Amy Rodriguez, 74).

Subs not used: 2-Rachel Buehler, 8-Lauren Cheney, 12-Leslie Osborne, 24-Nicole Barnhart.
Not Eligible: 10-Kacey White, 15-Kate Markgraf.
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

CRC: 1-Priscilla Tapia; 3-Vanessa Rojas, 4-Karol Galves, 5-Amanda Esquivel, 10-Katherine Alvarado, 15-Cristin Granados, 16-Yuliana Rodriguez, 8-Monica Malavassi – Capt., 12-Laura Sanchez, 14-Amara Wilson, 17-Adriana Venegas (13-Megan Chavez, 69).

Subs not used: 2-Adriana Rodriguez, 6-Gabriela Trujillo, 9-Paola de los Angeles Alvarado, 11-Raquel Rodriguez, 18-Yirlania Arroyo, 19-Maria Flores,
Not Eligible: 7-Mariela Campos, 20-Wendy Acosta.
Head Coach: Juan Diego Quesada

Statistical Summary:
USA / CRC
Shots: 26 / 6
Shots on Goal: 13 / 4
Saves: 4 / 9
Corner Kicks: 9 / 2
Fouls: 17 / 10
Offside: 2 / 0

Misconduct Summary: None.

Officials
Referee: Diane Ferreira-James (GUY)
Asst. Referee: Isabel Tovar (MEX)
Asst. Referee: Rita Munoz (MEX)
4th Official: Carol Ann Chenard (CAN)

Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Lori Chalupny

Semifinals
April 9 USA 3, Costa Rica 0
April 9 Canada vs. Mexico

Final/Third-place Game Kickoff (Local) / PT
April 12 Mexico vs. 5 p.m. MT / 4:00 p.m. PT
April 12 USA vs. 7:30 p.m. MT / 6:30 p.m. PT

U.S. Women’s National Team Quote Sheet

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage

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