U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team Sweeps Two-Game European Tour With 5-3 Victory Over Denmark in Copenhagen
The USA defeated Germany's U-21 side, 3-2, on March 10 in Munich, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to score three times in the final 25 minutes. This was the first tour abroad for the U.S U-21s outside of the annual Nordic Cup that is contested every summer in Northern Europe and serves as the unofficial world championship for Under-21 women. Both Germany and Denmark will be in the USA's group at this summer's Nordic Cup, which will take place from August 2-8 in Iceland.
With temperatures below freezing outside, the match against Denmark was played inside on a field comprised of artificial turf and sand. The USA went down a goal just four minutes into the match, but tied the game through Jen Streiffer (Notre Dame) five minutes later. The USA then lost the lead, but equalized on a goal by Meredith Florance (North Carolina) and the half ended at 2-2. Mary Francis Monroe (Connecticut) finally pushed the U.S. into the lead with a goal early in the second half. Denmark equalized the see-saw battle on a brilliant free-kick, before the Americans finally put the game away on goals by Mandy Clemens (Santa Clara) and Beth Keller (Clemson). It was the second goal in as many matches for both Monroe and Keller, who both scored against Germany.
"Overall, our play was representative of the winning mentality seen throughout all our U.S. Women's National Team programs," said U.S. Under-21 Head Coach Lauren Gregg. "We had great attacking personalities in both games and a tremendous resolve to win."
The U.S. Under-18 National Team also swept both games as the two youth national teams played doubleheaders against their age group European counterparts. The U-18s defeated Germany, 1-0, on a goal from Veronica Zepeda (Riverside, Calif.) and downed Denmark 2-0 on goals from Christie Welsh (Massapeaqua Park, N.Y.) and Andrea Velasco (Robbinsville, N.J.). The matches were the last for U.S. U-18 Head Coach Shannon Cirovski, who leaves the post to take a position as head women's soccer coach at the University of Maryland. The U-21s return to action at Maryland in April in a tournament to benefit breast cancer research that will feature a match against North Carolina.
The USA is gearing up for the Nordic Cup, which they won in 1997 in Denmark, defeating Norway 2-1 in sudden death overtime, but lost in Holland last year, falling by the same 2-1 score to Norway.
"I was very pleased to win both matches on the tour," added Gregg. "The quality of the games and the unique challenges these countries pose to us are invaluable experience for our young players. The games also provided us with important information for training and preparation to regain the Nordic Cup this summer."