"I'm very pleased with style with which they played and they really stepped up their competitiveness after halftime," said Heinrichs, whose team scored six second half goals. "Tentativeness and indecision will not help you in terms of confidence. If you want to get confidence and comfortable out there representing the U.S. Women's National Team, then compete. And I think that was the biggest difference in the second half. I told a few players at halftime that I don't care if you make mistakes, I want to know if you will compete for us for 90 minutes. And I think we learned a few things today."
The two teams played an even match through the first 20 minutes with both sides producing no real chances until Aly Wagner released Cindy Parlow on a breakaway in the 23rd minute, but the U.S. forward touched her shot just outside the right post from 16 yards out.
Tiffeny Milbrett replaced Parlow in the 31st minute and added an immediate spark to the U.S. attack, setting up two goals for Welsh in the last eight minutes of the first half. In the 37th minute, Milbrett penetrated straight through the middle of the Iceland defense and dished to Welsh on the right side. The 19-year-old Welsh had her hard shot blocked by a sliding defender, but the ball rolled past wrong-footed goalkeeper Thora Helgadottir and into the right corner.
In the 43rd minute, Milbrett received a pass off a short corner kick and played a cross into the middle to Welsh, who redirected the ball into the net from six yards. The two U.S. goals came after several shots had bent the Iceland defense until it broke. Helgadottir did well to save a Welsh header in the 34th minute and then punched a Jenna Kluegel shot away for a corner kick in the 36th.
The USA could have easily been down a goal in the 35th minute when former University of North Carolina Tar Heel star Rakel Ogmundsdottir popped free behind U.S. defense and lifted ball over goalkeeper Hope Solo, but the ball bounced wide right past the open net.
The USA picked up where it left off in the second half as Milbrett drew a diving save from Helgadottir in the 48th minute and Wagner hit the cross bar on a volley in the 52rd. No metal would deny Wagner in the 53rd minute as she stroked a 30-yard shot into the upper right corner from the left side of the penalty arc. One minute later, Christie Pearce picked off a pass on the run and streaked through the teeth of the Iceland defense to finish her one-on-one chance by slotting her shot under Helgadottir.
Milbrett set up Welsh for her first career hat trick in the 69th minute, deftly unlocking the Iceland defense with a short through ball. Helgadottir got her hand to Welsh's driven shot, but not enough to keep the ball out of the net as it settled into the left corner. The three goals gave Welsh five scores for her career in just seven matches.
"There are a lot of great young players out here and we all know that we have to try to improve every game," said Welsh. "In soccer, some days you are on and some days you can't pay for a goal. I just got really good service from Tiffeny today and was able to finish my chances."
Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly entered the game in the 70th minute and both wasted little time putting their mark on the match. Just one minute later, Lilly's hard cross from the left side was pushed by the diving Helgadottir straight to Hamm, who slammed her shot into the net from eight yards out. Lilly got a goal of her own in the 77th, hitting a long cross from an extremely sharp angle on the left flank that swerved over Helgadottir and smacked into the side netting at the far post for her 83rd career goal. The goal for Hamm on her first touch of the game was her world record 117th. Lilly played in her 197th career game as she continues her run for an unprecedented 200 caps.
"We still have a lot to prove," said Hamm. "Just because we've won Olympics and World Cups doesn't mean that we don't challenge ourselves every day. We feel that we have another level that we can reach and with all these young players there, is no doubt that we will get there."
Pearce finished the scoring and made it the first multiple goal game of her career as she added her second goal in the 84th minute, finishing a Danielle Slaton cross from close range.
The eighteen-year-old Solo, a key member of the USA's Pan-American Games gold medal squad for the Under-18 National Team last summer, picked up her first cap and shutout in the nets.
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Iceland National Team|
|Venue:||Richardson Stadium (Davidson, N.C.)|
|Date:||April 5, 2000 - Kickoff 2:30 ET|
|Weather:||68 degrees - Clear, Breezy|
USA - Christie Welsh, (Tiffeny Milbrett), 37,
USA - Christie Welsh, (Tiffeny Milbrett), 43,
USA - Aly Wagner, (Danielle Slaton), 53,
USA - Christie Pearce (Unassisted), 54,
USA - Christie Welsh, (Tiffeny Milbrett), 69,
USA - Mia Hamm, (Kristine Lilly), 71,
USA - Kristine Lilly (Unassisted), 77,
USA - Christie Pearce, (Danielle Slaton), 84.
USA - 18-Hope Solo, 3-Christie Pearce, 17-Michelle French, 15-Nandi Pryce, 19-Danielle Slaton, 21-Jenna Kluegel, 5-Nikki Serlenga, 25-Aly Wagner, 7-Sara Whalen (13-Kristine Lilly, 70th), 22-Christy Welsh, 12-Cindy Parlow (16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 31st, 9-Mia Hamm, 70th).
ISL - 1-Thora Helgadottir, 5-Edda Gardarsdottir, 13-Iris Saemundsdottir, 14-Gudrun Gunnarsdottir, 3- Gudlaug Jonsdottir, 4-Rakel Ogmundsdottir (16-Rakel Logadottir, 83rd), 6-Asthildur Helgadottir, 7-Margret Olafsdottir (15-Hrefna Johannesdottir, 87th), 8-Erla Hendriksdottir (2-Asdis Thorgilsdottir, 80th), 11-Katrin Jonsdottir, 10- Olga Faerseth (9-Asgerdur Ingibergsdottir, 61st).