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U.S. U-17 Women Play Historic First Match of 2008 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, Fall 3-2 to Japan in Group C

HAMILTON, New Zealand (October 30, 2008) –The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team had a disappointing opening to the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, dropping a 3-2 decision to a talented Japanese team on a crisp afternoon at Waikato Stadium.

The match marked the first-ever game for the U.S. women in a U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup and forward Vicki DiMartino made history by scoring the USA’s first-ever goal just 139 seconds into the match.

The goal came off a long throw-in from the left sideline by Cloee Colohan that bounced inside the penalty box before Japanese goalkeeper Saki Nakamura made a play for it. DiMartino challenged hard inside the six-yard box and crashed into the Japanese ‘keeper, who had bobbled the ball. The referee saw no foul as DiMartino bundled the ball into the net to give the USA the early lead.

Unfortunately, the rest of the first half belonged to Japan, which attacked with speed and sophistication while slicing through the U.S. defense to fire 13 shots before the break, three of which slammed off the crossbar.

The USA lost midfielder Erika Tymrak to a hip injury 30 minutes into the game and as substitute Elizabeth Eddy waited at midfield to come on, Japan equalized.

The goal came after Chiaki Shimada’s brilliant strike from 35 yards out slammed off the crossbar and rebounded into the middle of the U.S. penalty area. Forward Mana Iwabuchi was first to the rebound, settling the ball before slotting into the left corner from eight yards out past stranded U.S. goalkeeper Taylor Vancil.

Japan’s goal was a just reward after dominating the final 30 minutes of the first half, and the young U.S. team was fortunate to head into the break with a 1-1 draw.

Of Japan’s numerous first half chances, two of the best came just six minutes before halftime as Vancil very did well to stuff a mini-breakaway at the feet of Kozue Chiba, but the ball bounced out Akane Saito, and she cracked her shot off the bar.

The Americans came out with calmed nerves and better rhythm in the second half, taking the game to Japan for the first 20 minutes. The U.S. team produced plenty of danger through forwards Courtney Verloo and DiMartino, and when Kristie Mewis put the USA ahead in the 51st minute, that was a just goal as well.

The U.S. took advantage of its pressure to force a poor Japanese clearance that skipped right to Mewis who was outside the penalty area on the left side. She chipped in a shot from 22 yards out that initially did not look dangerous, but the ball wrong-footed the Japanese goalkeeper, who was perhaps screened by her own defender as well, before skipping into the left corner.

At that point in the match, it looked as if U.S. would be the team to get another goal as they had held Japan to a just a few dangerous attacks, but then the skillful Asian side equalized in spectacular fashion.

Japan had looked dangerous from distance all match and their tying goal came from 36 yards out as Natsumi Kameoka crushed a world class shot that sailed over Vancil and under the crossbar.

The goal seemed to embolden Japan and unsettle the U.S., which gave up the game-winner six minutes later. It came off a long ball that settled onto the head of Akane Saito at the U.S. restraining line. The Japanese forward deftly flicked the ball with her head to substitute Kei Yoshioka, who settled with her chest at the top of the penalty area and hit a sizzling volley into the upper left corner.

The Americans fought desperately to get a tying goal, and came close several times as sisters Kristie and Samantha Mewis each created danger in the waning minutes. With about 10 minutes left, Samantha Mewis worked herself free in the right corner of the penalty area with a fantastic spinning move and then fired at the left corner, only to see Nakamura get a glove to the ball to force it off the inside the post. Three minutes later, a Kristie Mewis cross from the left had to be slapped away by the Japanese goalkeeper.

The USA had a corner kick in stoppage time that was cleared, but Rachel Quon was fouled about 35 yards from the net straight away. Kristie Mewis stepped up and hit a blistering drive on a line, but Nakamura secured it to her chest. 

The win for Japan was its first ever over the United States in a FIFA women’s event and gives the Japanese a leg up in the race for the quarterfinals. The loss for the U.S. was the first in an international match for this group of players.

In order to keep their quarterfinal dreams alive, the U.S. team will now have to rebound with a win against Paraguay in its second Group C match on Nov. 2 in Hamilton. That match kicks off at 1 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) and fans can follow along on’s MatchTracker. For complete results and standings, go to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup competitions page on


Match: United States U-17 Women's National Team vs. Japan
Date: Oct. 30, 2008
Competition: 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup – Group C
Venue: Waikato Stadium; Hamilton, New Zealand
Kickoff: Noon (7 p.m. ET Oct. 29)
Attendance: 4,816
Weather: 57 degrees, partly cloudy, cool

Scoring Summary: 1    2    F
USA                          1    1    2
JPN                          1    2    3

USA – Vicki DiMartino (Cloee Colohan)       3rd minute.
JPN – Mana Iwabuchi (Chiaki Shinmada)    31
USA – Kristie Mewis                                     51
JPN – Natsumi Kameoka (TBA)                   68
JPN – Kei Yoshioka (Akane Saito)                74

USA: 18-Taylor Vancil; 3-Amber Brooks, 6-Cloee Colohan (Capt.), 17-Rachel Quon; 5-Erika Tymrak (19-Elizabeth Eddy, 32), 13-Julia Roberts, 11-Samantha Mewis (9-Samantha Johnson, 86), 14-Mandy Laddish (20-Olivia Klei, 52), 10-Kristie Mewis, 8-Vicki DiMartino, 7-Courtney Verloo.
Subs not used: 1-Alexa Gaul, Alexis Harris, 4-Crystal Dunn, 12-Hayley Brock, 15-Kate Bennett, 16-Morgan Brian, 21-Jennifer Pettigrew.
Head Coach: Kazbek Tambi

JPN: 1-Saki Nakamura; 2-Kozue Chiba, 3-Minori Chiba, 5-Natsuki Kishikawa (Capt.); 6-Natsumi Kameoka, 7-Chiaki Shimada (20-Yoko Tanaka, 59), 8-Yuko Takeyama, 12-Yuiko Inoue (14-Kei Yoshioka, 69); 9-Chinatsu Kira (19-Haruka Hamada, 91+), 10-Mana Iwabuchi, 11-Akana Saito.
Subs Not Used: 4-Nagisa Okuda, 13-Takako Sugiyama, 15-Saori Takahashi, 16-Sakiko Ikeda, 17-Minami Ishida, 18-Marika Ohshima, 21-Ayaka Saitoh.
Head Coach: Hiroshi Yoshida

Stats Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 11 / 20
Shots on Goal: 7 / 11
Saves: 5 / 5
Corner Kicks: 6 / 3
Fouls: 15 / 6
Offside: 2 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Rachel Quon (caution)      70th minute.
JPN – Mana Iwabuchi (caution)    93+

Referee: Thalia Mitsi (GRE)
Assistant Referee 1: Romina Santuari (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Secim Demirel (TUR)
Fourth Official: Cristina Dorcioman (ROU)

Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Rachel Quon