Forward Anne Morrell (Plymouth, Mich./Michigan Hawks), making her first start of the tournament, scored three goals, all off far post headers, while midfielder Aleisha Cramer (Lakewood, Colo./BYU) registered two goals and two assists. The USA's deluge of goals came despite playing without its top two forwards in Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y./Florida), who was suspended for receiving two yellow cards, and Katie Barnes (Cincinnati, Ohio/WVU), who could not play with a badly bruised foot.
Morrell, and forwards Danielle Borgman (Cincinnati, Ohio/UNC) and Laura Schott (Wilsonville, Ore./UC Berkeley), who notched two assists, stepped up big for the Americans in the most lopsided Nordic Cup championship game in history. It was also the greatest margin of victory in the 16 matches of this year's tournament.
"We showed today the importance of having 18 outstanding players in a tournament like this," said U.S. head coach Jerry Smith, who won his first Nordic Cup title at the helm of the U-21s. "We certainly saved our best performance for last. Today was a complete effort and as important as the goals that we scored, we showed some great possession play and incorporated all 11 players into our attack and defense."
With Cramer at the heart of almost every U.S. movement, the Americans played 90 minutes of wonderful, rhythmical attacking soccer that had the Swedes chasing the ball all over the field. Outside backs Jena Kluegel (Mahtomedi, Minn./UNC) and Ally Marquand (Irvine, Calif./Stanford) were once again a big part of the U.S. attack as lightning quick passes through the midfield freed them to run at Sweden on the flanks all match.
The Americans scored early goals in three out of the four Nordic Cup matches and tallied just five minutes into the championship game. Cramer darted to the sidelines to receive a throw-in from Marquand on the right flank. She then beat her defender down the line with a nifty stutter-step and rode the tackle until she broke free in the penalty area. Cramer floated a perfect cross to the far post and over the head of Swedish goalkeeper Sofia Lundgren to Morrell, who nodded the ball into the net from close range.
Just three minutes later, the Americans worked the ball down the field with some beautiful possession play and the ball ended up on the foot of Jill Oakes (West Hills, Calif./Santa Anita Strikers) about 25 yards out on the right side. She sent a delicate chip into the penalty area to Schott, who chested the ball down and took a touch past her defender before being chopped down. Norwegian referee Tonje Nordby immediately point to the penalty spot and Cramer stepped up to tuck her shot into the left corner past the wrong-footed Lundgren.
"In absence of Wambach and Barnes, two of our regular starters, Anne Morrell, Laura Schott and converted defender Danielle Borgman gave us terrific performances in their starts up front," added Smith. "Lori Chalupny and Jill Oakes played well beyond their years and put in great performances throughout the entire tournament. They both played exceptionally well in the final and their experience here will benefit them greatly as they help our Under-19s attempt to win world championship next year in Canada."
Smith gave Oakes her first start in midfield and the 17-year-old rewarded him with outstanding play on both sides of the ball. It was Oakes' goal against Germany in the final group game that gave the USA a tie and berth in the final. Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo./JB Marine) came off the bench in the 62nd minute and scored the final goal.
Sweden did pull a goal back in the 15th minute as Salina Olsson busted through several soft tackles and curled her shot around U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo (Richland, Wash./Washington). It would be the last highlight for Sweden as the U.S. answered back one minute later. Schott received a pass at the top of the penalty area with her back to the goal and played a pass back to Cramer, who took a touch to her left and cracked a 25-yard shot that struck the head of a Swedish defender and flew into the upper left corner past the stunned Lundgren.
Morrell scored her second goal just seconds before halftime, courtesy of Schott, who got the ball on the right flank and powered her way past a defender to the end line. Schott turned the corner and dribbled straight toward the goal before chipping a perfect pass to Morrell, who snapped her header into the lower left corner and the Americans went into halftime with a 4-1 lead.
The win was especially sweet for both Cramer and Morrell, whose youth club teams won national championships last Sunday without them, as Morrell's Michigan Hawks took the U-18 title and Cramer's Colorado Rush won the U-19 championship.
Sweden made four changes at halftime, perhaps in concession or perhaps in an attempt to get back into the match, but the American domination continued. Morrell got her third goal in the 66th minute as Cramer beat a defender deep on the right flank and sent a long cross to the far post where Morrell headed the ball home from almost right on the goal line.
"I didn't get to play much in the first three games, so when I got the chance today, I really wanted to help the team win," said Morrell. "Aleisha and Laura gave me great crosses and all I had to do was get my headers on frame. It was a total team performance."
The USA added a sixth goal in 89th minute as Marquand sent a long pass down the right flank to the streaking Chalupny, who with three Swedish defenders in tow, sprinted in on goal and bent her shot into the left corner with the outside of her right foot from five yards out. It was the second goal of the tournament for Chalupny.
"It was awesome to get a chance to play in this tournament with the U-21s," said Chalupny. "Our midfielders are great players and I learned a lot in the last two weeks."
The draw with Germany that put the USA in the final thwarted Germany's quest for a rare "quadruple" as they had already won European championships at the Under-17, Under-18 and full women's national team levels.
Germany could not regroup after being relegated to the third place match and were upset by Finland, 3-2. Canada crushed Iceland, 6-2, to take fifth place and Denmark defeated Norway in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie to take seventh place.
"My two biggest responsibilities as the Under-21 coach are to prepare our players to play someday for the full national team and to win the Nordic Cup," added Smith. "The players became better through this experience and have a better understanding of what it takes to win in major competitions at the international level while abroad."
2001 U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team vs. Sweden|
|Competition:||2001 Nordic Cup Championship Match|
|Venue:||Gjovik Stadium (Gjovik, Norway)|
|Date:||July 31, 2001 - Kickoff 1:00 p.m. ET|
|Weather:||62 degrees (Chilly, Light showers)|
USA - Anne Morrell (Aleisha Cramer), 5.
USA - Aleisha Cramer (penalty kick), 8.
SWE - Salina Olsson (unassisted), 15.
USA - Aleisha Cramer (Laura Schott), 16.
USA - Anne Morrell (Laura Schott), 44.
USA - Anne Morrell (Aleisha Cramer), 66.
USA - Lori Chalupny (Ally Marquand), 89.
USA - 18-Hope Solo (1-Emily Oleksiuk, 70th), 5-Ally Marquand, 4-Catherine Reddick (Capt.), 3-Anna Kraus (6-Casey Zimny, 72nd), 2-Jena Kluegel, 17-Aleisha Cramer, 23-Devvyn Hawkins (9-Erin Misaki, 56th), 11-Jill Oakes, 15-Danielle Borgman (14-Lori Lindsey, 72nd), 20-Anne Morrell, 10-Laura Schott (7-Lori Chalupny, 62nd).
SWE - 1-Sofia Lundgren, 2-Josephine Ovesson, 3-Karolina Rinman, 4-Josefin Chirstensen, 5-Nadja Gyllander (14-Therese Brogarde, 46th), 6-Lotta Runessson, 7-Therese Jonsson (9-Frida Nordin, 46th), 8-Marlene Sjoberg (16-Katarina Soderberg, 46th), 11-Salina Olsson, 15-Carolin Hagberg, 17-Emma Lindquist (10-Marit Bjorstedt, 46th).