BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (Sept. 20, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team swept its three-game series against Ireland with a 2-0 win on a beautiful night at Toyota Park in the third match of the Achieve Your Gold Tour.
The match was highly significant for two reasons. First, the U.S. women set a record for wins in a calendar year, picking up their 29th victory of 2008 to move to 29-1-1. The U.S. team won 28 games in 2004 while losing two and tying four.
Perhaps even more remarkable was defender Kate Markgraf scoring her first-ever international goal in her 193rd cap as she pounded home a penalty kick in the 31st minute.
Markgraf, who long ago set the U.S. record for most games without scoring, needed a bit of prodding from her teammates to run from midfield into the penalty box to take the kick, but coolly smacked her shot into the lower left corner past Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne to break her 192-game scoreless streak.
U.S. head coach Sundhage, the architect of the 29 wins this year and thus far the best-ever yearly winning percentage at .951, started Lindsay Tarpley at the withdrawn forward position, underneath Natasha Kai, and the moved paid off with the USA’s first goal of the night.
It came in the 19th minute when Carli Lloyd slipped a short pass into the penalty box for Tarpley, who spun a one-touch right into the path of Lori Chalupny. The U.S. left back was making a darting run behind the defense and settled the ball well. She then slipped it under Irish goalkeeper Emma Byrne from 10 yards out to give the Americans the lead.
“I think the game went well,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “We knocked it around in the first half and the first goal from Lori Chalupny was excellent. I think they had a lot of fun out there and that’s the most important thing. We got two goals from defenders and that’s pretty great. That means we have many goal scorers and that’s important.”
In the 30th minute, Kai got a hold of a ball in the penalty box and was taken down as she tried to turn and bust through. Referee Jennifer Bennett immediately pointed to the spot, setting the stage for a piece of WNT history.
“I have 192 games with the National Team and scored no goals,” said Markgraf. “For the past 10 years, any time we’ve had a penalty opportunity that wasn’t in a major tournament they’ve tried to get me to take one. Today I finally caved and said ‘okay, I’ll take one today.’ Some of it had to do with being here in Chicago (where she will be playing in the WPS for the Red Stars), but I also had to get rid of the pressure! Natasha Kai probably put the most pressure on me. She would always say ‘I’m getting you a PK!’”
Markgraf debuted for the USA in 1997 and had played 15,278 minutes in a National Team jersey before she coolly slotted home her penalty kick. Her 193rd cap moved her past Brandi Chastain into sole possession of seventh place on the USA’s all-time caps list.
“I’m so happy for her,” said Sundhage of Markgraf. “I coached her in Sweden with our club team and she scored a goal on a corner, but I’m so proud and happy to be a part of this, because it is her first goal and she’s been playing forever and ever.”
The Americans dominated the game on the smooth pitch at Toyota Park, racking up 21 shots to Ireland’s two and forcing Bryne into five saves. Ireland managed just one shot on goal.
Before the match, midfielder Shannon Boxx was honored for earning her 100th cap during the quarterfinal match at the 2008 Olympics. As is tradition, Boxx captained the U.S. team, her first time wearing the armband. It was also her 100th career start for the USA in her 105th career match.
The U.S. women will now take a break during the end of September and the month of October before hitting the field again in November for the next matches on the Achieve Your Gold Tour. The dates and venues for the remaining seven games of the tour will be announced in the near future.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Ireland
Competition: International Friendly – Achieve Your Gold Tour
Venue: Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.
Date: September 20, 2008; Kickoff – 7 p.m. ET
Weather: Clear, warm, breezy – 79 degrees
1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
IRL 0 0 0
USA – Lori Chalupny (Lindsay Tarpley) 19th minute.
USA – Kate Markgraf (penalty kick) 31.
USA: 1-Hope Solo (18-Nicole Barnhart, 46); 17-Lori Chalupny, 3-Christie Rampone (4-Rachel Buehler, 46), 15-Kate Markgraf, 2-Heather Mitts (14-Stephanie Cox, 46); 16-Angela Hucles (10-Aly Wagner, 46), 7-Shannon Boxx – Capt., 11-Carli Lloyd, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 6-Natasha Kai (21-Kacey White, 63).
Subs not used: 22-Briana Scurry.
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
IRL: 1-Emma Byrne; 5-Yvonne Tracy, 4-Niamh Fahey, 3-Alisha Moran (12-Sharon Boyle, 90), 13-Ciara McCormack (14-Jemma Connor, 46); 7-Ciara Grant, 6-Sonya Hughes (2-Meabh De Burca, 46), 17-Mary McDonnell, 8-Aine O’Gorman; 10-Michele O’Brien, 11-Stefanie Curtis (18-Denise Thomas, 60).
Subs not used: 9-Katie Taylor, 15-Susan Byrne, 16-Lynn Bradley.
Head Coach: Noel King
Statistical Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 21 / 2
Shots on Goal: 7 / 1
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 8 / 1
Fouls: 4 / 14
Offside: 5 / 0
Referee: Jennifer Bennett (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Stephanie Toth (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Veronica Hefner (USA)
Fourth Official: Margaret Domka (USA)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Kate Markgraf