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U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team Heads to Iceland Looking to Win Back Nordic Cup Title

CHICAGO (Wednesday, July 28, 1999) - On the heels of the historic victory for the U.S. Women's National Team in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, the U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team travels to Iceland today to compete in the Nordic Cup. Held annually in Northern Europe, the Nordic Cup brings together the world's top Under-21 Women's National Teams for the most important women's youth tournament for this age group.

The eight competing teams are divided into two groups of four, with first-round play consisting of round-robin matches within the group. The group winners will then play for the championship. The two second-place group finishers will play for third place, the third-place finishers for fifth and the last-place finishers will play for seventh.

"Although this is one the youngest teams we've brought to the Nordic Cup, it's a team that promises to uphold the tradition of excellence of our women's national team program," said U.S. U-21 Head Coach Lauren Gregg. "They have prepared hard all year and have had great success to date. We have some wonderful attacking personalities."

The grueling schedule features four matches in seven days for all eight teams, with the group winners meeting for the championship on Aug. 8 at the National Stadium in Laugardalsvollur. Gregg took over the U-21 program in 1997 with team having won just once in five previous trips to the tournament.

The USA won the Nordic Cup that year in Denmark, defeating arch-rival Norway in the championship game, 1-0, in sudden death overtime on a goal from Jen Streiffer (Notre Dame/Baton Rouge, La.). The USA fell to Norway last year in Holland, 2-1, with 1999 Women's World Cup star Cindy Parlow tallying for the USA, and will be looking to recapture the title.

The USA opens the tournament vs. Finland on Aug. 2 in Stjornvollur (Kickoff 2:30 p.m. Local Time/9:30 a.m. ET). The USA will then play Germany on Aug. 4 in Borgarnesvollur (4:30 p.m. Local Time/11:30 a.m. ET) and finish first-round play against on Aug. 6 against Denmark in Fjolnisvollur (2:30 p.m. Local Time/9:30 a.m. ET). The American U-21s defeated both Germany and Denmark by a goal on a two-game tour of Europe earlier this year. The USA will play in Group 2 while Group 1 features host Iceland, Australia, Sweden and Norway.

Of the 18-players on the roster, four are from University of North Carolina and three are from Notre Dame while Santa Clara and the University of Portland have two players each.

Players born after Jan. 1, 1978, are eligible for this year's Nordic Cup Team, however, each team is allowed two "overage" spots on its roster for players born after Jan. 1, 1975. Gregg used just one of her overage slots, naming U-21 veteran and team captain Michelle French (University of Portland/Kent, Wash.) to the squad. The roster includes four players who have not yet entered college in Lauren Orlandos (Mission Viejo Mirage/Lake Forest, Calif.) who will attend the University of Portland next fall, and Susan Bush (Houston Challenege, Houston, Tex.), who will attend North Carolina. Veronica Zepeda (Claremont Stars/Riverside, Calif.) and Aleisha Cramer (Colorado Rush/Lakewood, Colo.) will be seniors in high school this fall. Gregg will look to Bush, UNC's Meredith Florance (Dallas, Tex.) and Clemson's Beth Keller (Hilton Head, S.C.) for offensive punch, but a talented midfield may make the difference. Rising star Aly Wagner (Santa Clara/San Jose, Calif.), who like Bush is fresh off a five-month residency camp with the full national team, will play with Cramer, the nation's top senior, as well as 1996 Olympic team alternate Streiffer and U-21 veteran Jen Grubb (Notre Dame/Hoffman Est., Ill.) The defense will be anchored by French, Stanford star Ronnie Fair (Los Altos, Calif.) and Santa Clara standout Danielle Slaton (San Jose, Calif.)

Thirteen of the 18 members of the 1999 Nordic Cup Team have caps with the full national team, but Grubb leads the way with 12, Wagner has six and no other players has more than three. Just seven players from last year's Nordic Cup team are on this year's squad: Grubb, French, Lakeysia Beene (Notre Dame/Gold River, Calif), Fair, Streiffer, Bush and Raven McDonald (North Carolina/Benton, N.C.).

"It's important that all of our women's national teams strive for the same standard," added Gregg, who has served as an assistant coach on all three U.S. world championship teams. "These players are clearly instrumental in our quest to win in the future. You will see some of them compete for residency spots and positions on our Olympic roster, and an even larger number on our next Women's World Cup team." Following is the tournament groupings and schedule:

August 2 Local ET Time Site
Australia v. Sweden 2:30 p.m. 9:30 a.m. Hlidarendi
Iceland v. Norway 4:30 p.m. 11:30 a.m. Hlidarendi
USA v. Finland 2:30 p.m. 9:30 a.m. Stjornuvollur
Germany v. Denmark 4:30 p.m. 11:30 a.m. Stjornuvollur
August 4 Local ET Time Site
Germany v. Finland 2:30 p.m. 9:30 a.m. Kopavogsvollur
Sweden v. Iceland 4:30 p.m. 11:30 a.m. Kopavogsvollur
Denmark v. USA 2:30 p.m. 9:30 a.m. Fjolnisvollur
Australia v. Norway 4:30 p.m. 11:30 a.m. Fjolnisvollur
August 6 Local ET Time Site
Germany v. Finland 2:30 p.m. 9:30 a.m. Kopavogsvollur
Sweden v. Iceland 4:30 p.m. 11:30 a.m. Kopavogsvollur
Denmark v. USA 2:30 p.m. 9:30 a.m. Fjolnisvollur
Australia v. Norway 4:30 p.m. 11:30 a.m. Fjolnisvollur
August 8 Local ET Time Site
7th-8th Place 10:30 a.m. 5:30 a.m. KR-vollur
5th-6th Place 10:30 a.m. 5:30 a.m. Kaplakrikavollur
3rd-4th Place 12:30 p.m. 7:30 a.m. Kaplakrikavollur
1st-2nd Place 3:00 p.m. 10:00 a.m. Laugardalsvollur
(National Stadium)