EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Sept. 17, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team picked up its second win in as many games on the Achieve Your Gold Tour, a 10-game domestic run of matches to celebrate the 2008 Olympic gold medal, with a 1-0 victory over Ireland at Giants Stadium.
Forward Natasha Kai scored her team-leading 15th goal of the year in the 72nd minute to give the USA its 28th victory of 2008, tying a team record for most wins in a calendar year. The USA also won 28 games in 2004 when the team finished the year with a 28-2-4 record after also winning the Olympic gold medal, that one in Athens, Greece. Under U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage, the U.S. is 28-1-1 this year.
In a match that featured minimal scoring opportunities on a rock hard and very fast artificial surface, the U.S. fired just 12 shots, putting only three on goal. Ireland managed just three shots, but had two good chances to score at the end.
The USA dominated the possession, but had trouble breaking through a packed and committed Ireland defense. More than a few interesting looking balls over the top and short passes slipped in behind the Irish defense skidded over the end line on the slick surface.
Kai’s goal came after a nice series of possession got the ball to Carli Lloyd at the top of the penalty box. Lloyd dribbled square into the middle before slipping a short pass to Kai, who collected with her back to goal, then spun to cut a bouncing left-footed shot past Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne and into the lower right corner.
“Getting the win was awesome, but it was just a hard fought game,” said Kai. “They had their chances, we had our chances, but our players wanted to win and that's what counts in games like this.”
With 15 goals in 1,361 minutes, Kai is averaging one goal every 90 minutes this year for the U.S. It was also her second goal in as many games against Ireland and the 23rd of her career.
In the 89th minute, Ireland forward Michele O’Brien unleashed a hard drive at net from the right side of the penalty area and U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry made an excellent save, diving to her right to push the shot away.
In stoppage time, Ireland had its chance to equalize when a long ball floated over the top and Aine O’Gorman got on the end of it. As Scurry came off her line, O’Gorman lifted the ball over the U.S. ‘keeper with a soft shot that was bouncing into the six-yard box. Heather Mitts sprinted in to the rescue, settling the ball a few yards off the goal line before clearing it away.
Before the match, Point Pleasant, New Jersey, native Christie Rampone was honored for earning her 200th cap, which she got during the 2008 Olympics. Defender Stephanie Cox, who is just 22 years old, earned her 50th cap after coming on at halftime.
The U.S. women complete the three-game series against the Irish on Sept. 20 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Kickoff for that match is at 7 p.m. CT and it will be streamed lived on ussoccer.com via MatchAccess. Fans can also follow on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Ireland
Competition: International Friendly – Achieve Your Gold Tour
Venue: Giants Stadium; East Rutherford, N.J.
Date: September 17, 2008; Kickoff – 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 73 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
IRL 0 0 0
USA – Natasha Kai ( Carli Lloyd) 72nd minute
USA: 1-Hope Solo (22-Briana Scurry, 46); 17-Lori Chalupny (21-Kacey White, 70), 3-Christie Rampone – Capt, 15-Kate Markgraf (4-Rachel Buehler, 46), 2-Heather Mitts; 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Aly Wagner, 11-Carli Lloyd, 9-Heather O’Reilly (14-Stephanie Cox, 46), 6-Natasha Kai, 16-Angela Hucles.
Subs not used: 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 18-Nicole Barnhart.
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
IRL: 1-Emma Byrne; 5-Yvonne Tracy, 4-Niamh Fahey, 3-Alisha Moran, 13-Ciara McCormack; 7-Ciara Grant, 6-Sonya Hughes (19-Selina Moylan, 82), 17-Mary McDonnell, 8-Aine O’Gorman; 10-Michele O’Brien, 11-Stefanie Curtis.
Subs not used: 2-Meabh De Burca, 9-Katie Taylor, 12-Sharon Boyle, 14-Jemma Connor, 15-Susan Byrne, 16-Lynn Bradley, 18-Denise Thomas.
Head Coach: Noel King
Statistical Summary: USA / IRL
Shots: 12 / 3
Shots on Goal: 4 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 5 / 0
Fouls: 7 / 11
Offsides: 2 / 2
Referee: Sandra Serafini (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Debbie Coleman (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Meredith Hackett (USA)
Fourth Official: Danielle Magouirk (USA)
Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Natasha Kai