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U.S. Women Defeat China, 2-1, on Dramatic Late Goal from Venturini; Rematch on Sunday as NIKE Road to Pasadena Continues in New Jersey


HERSHEY, Pa. (Thursday, April 22, 1999) - The U.S. Women's National Team put together a powerful performance and earned a dramatic winning goal two minutes into stoppage time to defeat arch-rival China, 2-1, in front of 15,257 ecstatic fans at Hersheypark Stadium.

The NIKE Road to Pasadena, which will take the USA through nine cities during its Women's World Cup preparation, continues on Sunday at Giants Stadium in New Jersey as the two teams meet again, playing the second match as part of a doubleheader with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. Kickoff for the women's game is 4:30 p.m. ET, broadcast live on espn2.

Midfielder Tisha Venturini, who had entered the match in the 90th minute for Kristine Lilly, scored on her first and last touch of the game, bringing the crowd to its feet and avenging a 2-1 loss to China in the championship game of the Algarve Cup on March 20.

With the seconds ticking away and the near sell-out crowd urging the Americans to score, Shannon MacMillan took a quick free-kick after a China foul in midfield and played the ball into wide open space on the right flank for Mia Hamm. The U.S. striker drove into the penalty area, and attempted to cross to the back post. Instead, Chinese goalkeeper Han Wenxia got a hand on the ball to knock it down, but it rolled perfectly to Venturini, who slid to slam the ball into the middle of the net from seven yards out.

The USA dominated the first half, stringing together passes at pace while weaving through the Chinese defense to create numerous chances. Forward Cindy Parlow hit the cross bar in just the 2nd minute, and almost chipped Han in the 7th minute but the goalkeeper leapt high to snag the shot. In the 12th minute, Hamm sliced through two defenders and slammed her shot into the side netting, but the Chinese defense could not hold out much longer.

In the 19th minute, Brandi Chastain won a tackle in midfield and sent Hamm behind the China defense with a pin-point through ball. As Hamm raced into the penalty box, defender Wen Lirong fouled her from behind and referee Nancy Ley pointed to the penalty spot.

Michelle Akers nailed the penalty kick for her 101st international goal as Han got a hand on the ball but couldn't turn it away.

"We beat a very, very good China team tonight," said U.S. Head Coach Tony DiCicco. "The first half was among the best we have played in a long time. We can gain so much for this kind of game, not only because of the quality of the opponent, but because of how well our reserves played and the quality minutes we got from the starters."

China picked up the pace in the second half and found a rhythm of their own, creating several chances, but did not strike a dangerous shot until its goal. China equalized in the 59th minute on a brilliant free-kick from captain Sun Wen, who spun her shot over the U.S. wall and into the upper left corner from 30 yards out, giving U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry no chance.

U.S. captain Carla Overbeck left the match just before the goal with a mild ankle sprain, giving way to Tiffany Roberts, but should be ready to go on Sunday in the rematch. After China tied the score, the USA pushed for the winner as DiCicco made three substitutes in the last 12 minutes, bringing on MacMillan, Danielle Fotopoulos and Venturini.

"Tonight's crowd was awesome and while we were on the bench, we enjoyed the show," said Venturini, who scored her 39th international goal. "Every day we are getting better and each practice is like a war. The excitement is definitely building and we know the crowds will be three times this big this summer. We're going to ready to explode in June. We better hurry up and get to the World Cup before we kill each other in training."

The USA out-shot China 8-5 in the entertaining match between two extremely organized and skillful teams. Hamm, who sits at 104 career goals, is still in pursuit of the world scoring record of 107 goals, held by the long-retired Elisabetta Vignotto of Italy.

"Mia created both goals with spectacular runs and overall I'm very happy with our performance," added DiCicco. "But that will last about a day and we've got to re-energize and focus for the match on Sunday at Giants Stadium."

The USA will travel to New Jersey tomorrow and train at the Pingry Lower School on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning before facing China again on Sunday, April 25. The Americans will then travel to Charlotte, N.C. on Monday to prepare to face Japan on Thursday, April 29 at Ericsson Stadium (Kickoff at 7 p.m. ET). The USA will face Japan again on May 2 in Atlanta at Dekalb Memorial Stadium (Kickoff at 2:00 p.m. ET).

1999 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT

Participants:United States National Team vs. China National Team
Competition:NIKE Road to Pasadena / International Friendly
Venue:Hersheypark Stadium (Hershey, Pa.)
Date:April 22, 1999; Kickoff 7:00 p.m. ET
Attendance:15,257
Weather:Cool and Breezy -- 65 degrees

Scoring Summary:1st2ndFinal
United States
112
China
011

USA - Michelle Akers, (Penalty Kick), 20,
CHN - Sun Wen, (unassisted), 59,
USA - Tisha Venturini, (Mia Hamm), 92+.

Lineups:
USA - 1-Briana Scurry, 4-Carla Overbeck (5-Tiffany Roberts, 59th), 14-Joy Fawcett, 20-Kate Sobrero, 6-Brandi Chastain, 10-Michelle Akers (3-Christie Pearce, 46th), 11-Julie Foudy, 13-Kristine Lilly (Tisha Venturini, 90th), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett (8-Shannon MacMillan, 78th), 12-Cindy Parlow (22-Danielle Fotopoulos, 86th), 9-Mia Hamm.

CHN - 20-Han Wenxia, 3-Fan Yunjie, 12-Wen Lirong, 5-Xie Huilin, 6-Zhao Lihong (11-Gao Hongxia, 89th) 2-Wang Liping (17-Pu Wei, 37th), 10-Liu Ailing, 13-Liu Ying (7-Zhang Ouying, 83rd), 22-Bai Jie, 9-Sun Wen, 14-Jin Yan.

Statistical Summary:USACHN
Shots . . . . . . . . . .
85
Saves . . . . . . . . .
24
Corner Kicks . . . .
32
Fouls . . . . . . . . . .
1220
Offside . . . . . . . . .
32

Misconduct Summary:
CHN
Fan Yunjie (caution)7,
USA
Carla Overbeck (caution)31,
CHN
Zhao Lihong (caution)57,
CHN
Jin Tan (caution)91+.

Officials:
Referee:
Nancy Ley(USA)
Assistant Referee:
Craig Lowry(USA)
Assistant Referee:
Elizabeth Ann Ross(USA)
Fourth Official:
B.J. Battinger(USA)


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