The win gave the USA 12 points from five matches in the tournament, tied with China and Canada, but the Americans raised the cup based on superior goal difference. It was the third tournament championship won abroad this year for the U.S. women along with the Australia Cup in January and the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March. Along with the NIKE U.S. Women's Cup won in Portland, Ore., in May, it was the fourth title of the year.
"We've really made a lot of parallels with the Pacific Cup to the Olympics in September," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "From the long flight over here, to the weather, to the amount of games we played, to the fact that we could lose our first game and still come back to win. I was most pleased that we demonstrated consistency and got better through the course of every game. We played well in adverse conditions on the road and the comparisons to the Olympics are overt and obvious. This tournament will no doubt help inspire us in our preparation because we have an idea of what to expect."
Heinrichs had the luxury of starting the match with tournament leading scorer Cindy Parlow on the bench, but it was the 5-11 striker who created the winning goal after coming on in the 59th minute. The Americans had run hard at the Australia goal all match, but despite numerous near misses, could not find a way past Matildas' goalkeeper Tracey Wheeler and the scrappy Aussie defense.
The USA finally got its goal in the 79th minute when Parlow received a bouncing pass in the top of the penalty box and attempted to touch it over defender Cheryl Salisbury. The 5-foot-11 Salisbury, seeing herself beaten and with no one behind her, clearly stuck up a wing and knocked the ball down with her upper arm. Referee Tammy Ogston did not hesitate to award and penalty kick and MacMillan drilled her shot home for the winner.
"The field was slick and sometimes it was hard to read the ball, but we still created a lot of chances," said MacMillan, who scored her 29th international goal. "I had several chances in the first half, but the game is stingy and we couldn't put them away. On the penalty, Mia looked at me because she knew I wanted it. I wanted to bury it because I was frustrated for not finishing my chances earlier."
Heavy showers and high winds pelted the field for 45 minutes before the match and continued throughout the game. The U.S. team dominated play with high-paced ball possession against the high-pressure defense of the Australians as strikers Tiffeny Milbrett and Mia Hamm, with great support from the midfield, repeatedly sliced wide gaps in the Matlidas' back line. The U.S. knocked the ball around with remarkable precision considering the conditions, as sheets of rain fell in the second half, and got a deserved goal when MacMillan converted her spot kick. Parlow finished as the competition's top scorer with seven goals.
"We had every weather condition we could possibly have on this trip," said Heinrichs. "We need to get used to playing on a slick surface. The footing was unbelievably difficult. All things considered, to win 1-0, to create as many chances as we did, and to pursue the kind of soccer we did, we have to be pleased. Anyone can tear a house down, we're trying to build one up."
U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix was rock solid as the Australians kept her active all game. In the 2nd minute, Mullinix was forced to punch away a free-kick, then dove at the feet of Sunni Hughes to snuff out a chance in the 13th minute. She came far out of her goal a half dozen times to clear away Australia through balls and defused the last dangerous Aussie chance when she pushed a troublesome flighted ball from Amy Wilson over the crossbar in the 66th minute. The U.S. back line was not troubled by Australia's steady stream of long balls, as Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett and Kate Sobrero ran down everything that came their way.
"We played very well under the conditions and especially against a very fired up Australia team on Australia soil," said U.S. captain Julie Foudy. "The weather plays into their game, which is a feisty, scrappy, direct type of game. In the first half, we could have easily walked into the locker room with two or three goals."
Hamm was a brilliant creator on the day, unlocking the defense for Milbrett on several occasions. In the 20th minute, a one-two between the pair put Milbrett one-on-one with Wheeler, but the Australia 'keeper dove low to her left to make a fantastic save.
The next five minutes saw three U.S. chances go wanting as Hamm looped a ball to Milbrett behind defense only for her to volley wide from 16 yards. Kristine Lilly then hit a cracker of a volley that was palmed off the cross bar by Wheeler. MacMillan, crashing hard, hit the rebound over the top. A quick passing sequence between Lilly, Hamm and Milbrett once again put the latter clear to shoot, only to push her shot wide from eight yards.
In the 52nd minute, Milbrett shook herself free at the top of the penalty box, but skipped her left-footed shot just wide of the left post. In the 78th minute, Milbrett's chip from 20 yards had eyes for the upper corner before Wheeler batted it away. One minute later, Parlow and Salisbury clashed to set up the penalty kick.
The game deteriorated a bit after the U.S. goal with the Australians taking several shots at U.S. players, including an off-the-ball shove from Matilda captain Alison Foreman that sent Nikki Serlenga sprawling. Seconds later, Foreman chopped down Hamm in the middle of the field, but already carrying an earlier yellow card, escaped with only a verbal warning from Ogston.
The U.S. team returns to the United States on Monday and then has week break before regrouping in Hershey, Pa. on June 20 to prepare for its first match of the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup on June 23 against Trinidad & Tobago (8 p.m. ET).
2000 U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Women's National Team vs. Australia National Team|
|Competition:||2000 Pacific Cup|
|Venue:||Breakers Stadium (Newcastle, Australia)|
|Date:||June 11, 2000 - Kickoff 2:30 p.m. local/12:30 a.m. ET|
|Weather:||48 degrees - Rain, Windy, Cold, Wet|
USA - Shannon MacMillan (Penalty Kick), 79.
USA - 26-Siri Mullinix, 3-Christie Pearce, 14-Joy Fawcett, 20-Kate Sobrero, 6-Brandi Chastain (12-Cindy Parlow, 59th), 13-Kristine Lilly, 2-Lorrie Fair (5-Nikki Serlenga, 83rd), 11-Julie Foudy (Capt.), 8-Shannon MacMillan, 16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 9-Mia Hamm.
AUS - 1-Tracey Wheeler, 8-Cheryl Salisbury, 3-Bridgette Starr, 5-Diana Alagich, 6-Anissa Tann-Darby (14-Sacha Waiwright, 85th), 7-Alison Foreman (Capt.), 2-Kate McShea, 12-Bryony Duus (16-Amy Wilson, 46th), 11-Sharon Black (4-Heather Garriock, 68th), 10-Sunni Hughes, 13-Alicia Ferguson (17-Kelly Golebiowski, 68th).
|Alison Foreman (caution)||45,|
|Cindy Parlow (caution)||82.|
|2000 Pacific Cup Standings|
|USA||5||4||1||0||19||3||12 (+16 GD)|
|China||5||4||1||0||12||3||12 (+9 GD)|
|Canada||5||4||1||0||12||13||12 (-1 GD)|
|Australia||5||2||3||0||6||4||6 (+2 GD)|
|Japan||5||1||4||0||4||13||3 (-9 GD)|
|New Zealand||5||0||5||0||2||19||0 (-17 GD)|
|Pacific Cup Leading Goal Scorers|
|Amanda Crawford||New Zealand||2|
Canada 2, New Zealand 1
China 1, USA 0
Australia 1, Japan 0
Japan 2, New Zealand 1 (OT)
USA 9, Canada 1
China 2, Australia 1 (China wins in PKs 5-4)
China 2, Japan 0
USA 5, New Zealand 0
Canada 2, Australia 0
Australia 4, New Zealand 0
China 2, Canada 2 (Canada wins in PKs 5-3)
USA 4, Japan 1
Canada 5, Japan 1
China 6, New Zealand 0
USA 1, Australia 0