CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (Nov. 13, 2008) – The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team advanced to the championship game of the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, defeating Germany 2-1 in a classic semifinal that saw goals from forwards Vicki DiMartino and Courtney Verloo pull the USA back from a 1-0 first half deficit.
The USA will now face Korea DPR in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Final on Nov. 16 at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland. Kickoff for the championship game is 4 p.m. local (10 p.m. ET on Nov. 15). The skillful North Koreans edged a gritty England side by a 2-1 score in the other semifinal to earn their place in the title match.
The U.S. U-17s, which lost its first game of this tournament to Japan, advanced to the final with a fantastic display of attacking ball-possession soccer in a highly entertaining match played in front of more than 8,000 boisterous fans at QEII Park. The Americans came into the game as decided underdogs against a German team that had rolled through the tournament, but the USA’s inspiring ball-winning combined with its passing rhythm and ability to connect through the midfield eventually wore the Germans down.
The dramatic winning goal came in the 81st minute after U.S. defender Amber Brooks found herself with some space in the center of the field about 45 yards from the German net. She sent a canon ball shot that froze German goalkeeper Anna Sarholz as it smacked off the upper right corner of the goal and bounced into the middle of the penalty area. U.S. midfielder Julia Roberts was first to the ball, but couldn’t get a solid hit on it and it was swept away by a retreating Germany defender. The ball bounced fortuitously to Verloo, who showed composure and class by pounding the ball home from six yard out to make it 2-1.
Earlier, it looked as if it might be the Germans day, as they tallied just six minutes into the game after starting the match by putting the USA under intense pressure. The goal came off a corner kick from the left side as Dzsenifer Marozans drilled her service into the middle of the box and 5-foot-9-inch Alexandra Popp powered her way to the ball before sending a bullet header into the USA’s net from six yards out.
Amazingly, the goal seemed to settle the U.S. team, which dominated the final 35 minutes of the first half, except for a defensive miscue that could have changed the match. In the 17th minute, U.S. defender Cloee Colohan played a poor back pass to goalkeeper Taylor Vancil, who tried to save the ball from going out for a corner kick. Instead, her poor clearance went straight to a German player in the left side of the penalty area. The German attacker had a wide open net, but fortunately for the USA, sent her shot high.
That was the last time the Germans would threaten the U.S. goal in the first half, which featured tremendous passing combinations and scoring chances from the young Americans. In the 21st minute, DiMartino was clipped down after a nice one-v-one dribbling run just above the left side of the penalty area. Roberts smacked her free-kick over the wall and to the near post, but Sarholz dove to push it away.
In the 30th minute after some extended U.S. pressure that was pinning Germany inside its own half, defender Crystal Dunn got the ball at the left corner of the penalty and spun a shot that was headed into the upper right corner before Sarholz flew full-out to tip it over on a spectacular play.
In the 35th minute, Verloo popped free after winning a bouncing ball in the box, but her screamer from 15 yards out rose just over the cross bar.
In the 40th minute, Kristie Mewis wiggled free at the top of the penalty box and cut a shot through traffic that beat Sarholz, but not the right post, hitting it squarely before the Germans cleared. Five minutes later, Samantha Mewis sent a bullet header off the middle of the crossbar from 10 yards out and the USA had to go into halftime down a goal.
The Germans started the second half with attacking energy. Turid Knaak sent a dangerous shot on goal from the right side of the penalty area that Vancil had to knock down and grab. Just minutes later, Popp hit a blistering drive from the top of the penalty area after a counter-attack and Vancil had to dive to snare it.
Against South Korea in the USA’s quarterfinal match, midfielder Erika Tymrak entered the game in the 81st minute and sent up a goal just three minutes later. She bettered that against Germany, coming on the 61st minute before setting up DiMartino’s 63rd minute equalizer.
Tymrak ran at two German defenders down the right flank, creating enough space near the end line to loop a cross into the middle. The ball flew over the Germany goalkeeper and dropped at the far post for DiMartino to bundle into the net from close range.
It was DiMartino’s fifth goal in five games, making her the only player to score in all five of her matches at the U-17 Women’s World Cup.
The equalizer was certainly deserved for the USA who out-shot Germany 15-9 for the match and put 10 shots on goal to Germany’s five.
After the tying goal, Germany sent more numbers forward, but the U.S. defense, and especially outside backs Rachel Quon and Dunn, as well as defensive midfielder Brooks, came up with big tackle after big tackle to thwart the European champions. The U.S. defense, marshaled by Colohan, was especially good shutting down Marozsan, who came into the match as the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals.
The tackles were especially hard and frequent in the last final half hour, with Brooks getting a yellow card after a scuffle with Marozsan in the 60th minute.
Right before she bagged the winner, Verloo has a chance from 35 yards, catching Sarholz off her line with a looping shot from 35 yards that fell into the top of the net.
That set the stage for Brook’s thumping shot and the wild winning goal, which was Verloo’s fourth of the tournament.
Germany tried in vain to get an equalizer during final 12 minutes including stoppage time, but the USA did well to kill some time in the corners of the field as well as win numerous 50-50 balls in dangerous areas.
The match marked the eighth time the USA and Germany have met in a knockout round game at a FIFA Women’s World Cup or an Olympic Games. The win tonight gives the USA a 6-2 record in those matches.
The U.S. team now travels back to Auckland and will have two rest days to prepare for the U-17 Women’s World Cup Final.
U.S. UNDER-17 WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match: United States U-17 Women's National Team vs. Germany
Date: Nov. 13, 2008
Competition: 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – Semifinal
Venue: QEII Park; Christchurch, New Zealand
Kickoff: 7 p.m. (1 a.m. ET)
Weather: 62 degrees, partly cloudy, breezy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
GER 1 0 1
GER – Alexandra Popp (Dzsenifer Marozsan) 6th minute
USA – Vicki DiMartino (Erika Tymrak) 63
USA – Courtney Verloo 81
USA: 18-Taylor Vancil; 4-Crystal Dunn, 6-Cloee Colohan, 17-Rachel Quon; 11-Samantha Mewis, 3-Amber Brooks, 13-Julia Roberts, 10-Kristie Mewis (capt.), 20-Olivia Klei (5-Erika Tymrak, 61); 8-Vicki DiMartino (9-Samantha Johnson, 92), 7-Courtney Verloo
Subs not used: 1-Alexa Gaul, 2-Alexis Harris, 12-Hayley Brock, 14-Mandy Laddish, 15-Kate Bennett, 16-Morgan Brian, 19-Elizabeth Eddy, 21-Jennifer Pettigrew
Head Coach: Kazbek Tambi
GER: 1-Anna Sarholz; 3-Inka Wesely, 4-Valeria Kleiner (capt.), 5-Carolin Simon, 20-Leonie Maier;
6-Marie-Louise Bagehorn (14-Ivana Rudelic, 83), 7-Turid Knaak, 8-Lynn Mester; 9-Tabea Kemme (18-Svenja Huth, 85), 10-Dzsenifer Marozsan, 11-Alexandra Popp
Subs Not Used: 2-Angelina Luebcke, 12-Almuth Schult, 13-Julia Debitzki, 15-Hasret Kayikci, 16-Nicole Rolser, 17-Isabelle Linden, 19-Claudia Goette 21-Lisa Schmitz
Head Coach: Ralf Peter
Stats Summary: USA / GER
Shots: 15 / 9
Shots on Goal: 10 / 5
Saves: 4 / 6
Corner Kicks: 4 / 4
Fouls: 12 / 13
Offside: 1 / 0
USA – Amber Brooks (caution) 69th minute
Referee: Sung Mi Cha (KOR)
Assistant Referee 1: Kyoung Min Kim (KOR)
Assistant Referee 2: Seul Gi Lee (KOR)
Fourth Official: Natalia Avdonchenko (RUS)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match:
North Korea 2, England 1
USA 2, Germany 1
Third-Place Match Venue Kickoff Local / ET
Germany vs. England North Harbour Stadium (Auckland, New Zealand) 1 p.m. / 7 p.m. Nov. 15
Final Venue Kickoff Local / ET
USA vs. Korea DPR North Harbour Stadium (Auckland, New Zealand) 4 p.m. / 10 p.m. Nov. 15