Not counting veteran defender Thori Bryan, the U.S. starting lineup owned a total of 11 caps and zero international goals at the start of the match. That changed quickly as Mascaro (formerly Streiffer) got the USA on the board in the 12th minute. A corner kick from Mandy Clemens was poorly cleared by the Czech defense and the ball fell to Kester, who crossed to the far post for Mascaro to hit a spinning volley from eight yards out that stuck in the left corner.
The Americans came at the Czechs from the opening whistle and Clemens fired four shots in the first 10 minutes, two of which were just tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Zuzana Pincova. Clemens, the winner of both the Hermann and MAC Awards as college soccer's best player in 1999, played an inspired first half before leaving with tightness in her right hamstring, and got around the Czech defense through solo runs on several occasions. It was Clemens who set up the second goal, taking a throw-in from Bryan down the right flank before turning the corner on her defender and finding Susan Bush in the seam for the 19-year old to knock in from four yards.
"I was extremely pleased with the commitment of our players, both individually and collectively, not only to getting a result, but to the level of play," said Lauren Gregg, who coached almost every U.S. player on the Under-21 National Team.
The USA's third goal came off a goalkeeper mistake as Nikki Serlenga's well-hit but savable shot bounced over a flopping Pincova from 18 yards out. Kester put the game away by scoring twice in the first 12 minutes of the second half, the first coming when she ran onto a driven cross from Christie Welsh and slid to knock the ball into the right corner. Welsh also created the next goal, weaving through several defenders in the penalty box, only to have her shot blocked. The ball rebounded to Mascaro, who took a crack herself, only to have her shot cleared weakly off the line to Kester, who shot into an open net from close range.
"I guess it was kind of a dream debut," said Kester, who became only the second player in Women's National Team history to score twice in her first international match. "But I got great service from Christie on the first goal and just framed Jen's shot on the second."
Mascaro scored her second goal in the 65th minute after 17-year old Nandi Pryce ran onto a corner kick and sent a bullet header back through the penalty box. The ball was deflected into the air for Mascaro to fire a full-volley through goal-mouth traffic into the left side of the net from six yards out.
"Our midfield was largely responsible for controlling the tempo the game," added Gregg. "Jen Mascaro and Aly Wagner delivered some exception final passes and Aleisha Cramer was a ball winner."
The USA's seventh goal came from the 18-year-old Welsh after Serlenga threaded a pass to her at the top of the penalty box. The nation's leading scorer as a freshman last season for Penn State wheeled toward goal and fired her left-footed shot low into the left corner from 16 yards away.
"The game was a lot of fun," said the 5-foot-10 Welsh, who came on for Clemens at halftime. "We had some great goals and I felt comfortable out there. We pretty much had the game won when I came in, but to our team's credit we kept pounding away."
Seventeen-year-old Veronica Zepeda finished the scoring in the 83rd minute after Aly Wagner beat two defenders on a run into the penalty box and tried the chip the goalkeeper. Pincova made a flying save, but was helpless as Zepeda slammed the rebound into the open net.
Defender Michelle French, a three-year captain of the Under-21 National Team, captained the full team for the first time and anchored a defense with Kelly Lindsey that almost entirely shut down the Cezch attack. The USA out-shot the Czechs, 26-2, but gave up a late goal to Iveta Dudova.
The USA now looks to its second match of the Australia Cup against world power and Olympic foe Sweden on Monday, Jan. 10 (5:30 p.m. local/1:30 a.m. ET). Sweden downed host Australia in the other match, getting first-half goals from 1999 Women's World Cup star Hanna Ljungberg and defender Cecilia Sandell.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||United States National Team vs. Czech Republic National Team|
|Competition:||2nd Australia Cup|
|Venue:||Olympic Park (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)|
|Date:||January 7, 2000 - kickoff 6 p.m. (local); 2 a.m. (ET)|
|Weather:||78 degrees - Sunny, Breezy|
USA - Jen Mascaro, (Sherrill Kester), 12,
USA - Susan Bush, (Mandy Clemens), 16,
USA - Nikki Serlenga, (Susan Bush), 40,
USA - Sherrill Kester, (Christie Welsh), 50,
USA - Sherrill Kester, (Jen Mascaro), 57,
USA - Jen Mascaro, (Nandi Pryce), 65,
USA - Christie Welsh, (Nikki Serlenga), 75,
USA - Veronica Zepeda, (Aly Wagner), 83,
CZH - Iveta Dudova, (n/a), 86.
USA - 18-Lakeysia Beene, 2-Thori Bryan (4-Nandi Pryce, 46th), 3-Kelly Lindsey, 11-Michelle French (C), 17-Danielle Slaton (14-Heather Aldama, 60th), 10-Aleisha Cramer (7-Aly Wagner, 46th), 15-Nikki Serlenga, 13-Jen Mascaro, 16-Sherrill Kester, 9-Susan Bush (6-Veronica Zepeda, 60th), 5-Mandy Clemens (Christie Welsh, 46th).
CZH - 1-Zuzana Pincova, 15-Pavla Cervenkova (4-Dagmar Hrenova, 31st), 3-Ienka Zahorikova, 5-Eva Knavova, 6-Pavla Mackova (13-Alena Petranova, 73rd), 8-Dana Jerabkova (12-Ienla Kaplanova, 46th), 9-Pavlina Scasna, 10-Martina Jedlickova-(C) (18-Katerina Doskova, 55th), 7-Gabriela Chlumecka, 11-Iveta Dudova.
|Pavla Cervenkova (caution)||25,|
|Alena Chlumecka (caution)||90.|