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U.S. Women Battle Australia to a Scoreless Draw

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FULLERTON, Calif. (Oct. 16, 2005) – The U.S. Women’s National Team battled a tough Australia team to a 0-0 tie at Titan Stadium, but still extended its shutout streak to nine games, dating back to the final match of 2004. The U.S. women moved 7-0-1 on the year but still have yet to allow a goal under new head coach Greg Ryan.

The tie was the second in a row for the two teams, who played to a 1-1 draw in group play at the 2004 Olympics. It was also the first time the U.S. women had been shutout in the last 40 matches dating back to a 0-0 draw with China on Feb. 1, 2004.

Ryan started Kate Markgraf with Amy LePeilbet (who picked up her ninth cap) in the center of the defense while Cat Reddick pushed wide right and Heather Mitts was on the left. Australia, playing under former WUSA head coach Tom Sermanni, came out with some confidence and put the USA under some early pressure, but the U.S. back line kept the Aussie attack at bay for most of the game, allowing just one dangerous chance per half.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who picked up her sixth shutout out of the year, smothered a ball off the foot of Sarah Walsh in the seventh minute. The only other scary moment came in the 85th minute when Markgraf and Solo had a miscommunication in the back, allowing substitute Selin Kuralay a shot on net, but Woman of the Match Amy LePeilbet cleared the ball out of danger.

The U.S. team managed to create a few quality chances against a gritty and organized Aussie back line, but the Americans rarely tested Australian goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri with dangerous shots on frame, forcing her into just five saves. The U.S. did pick up the pressure in the last five minutes and almost got a winner on several occasions.

The match had five minutes of extra time, in part due to an injury to referee Keri Seitz, who had to leave the match in the 69th minute with a calf strain. She was replaced by fourth official Jennifer Bennett.

In the 90th minute, Tiffeny Milbrett took a ball down on the right side and fired a shot for the far post that went wide as Shannon Boxx almost got her head on it. Two minutes later, Abby Wambach headed a ball across the goalmouth to Boxx, but her shot was cleared off the line by midfielder Alicia Ferguson. Millbrett had another chance from distance in the third minute of stoppage, but it was easily scooped up by Barbieri and Reddick had a close chance off a header as well.

The USA could have gone ahead in the seventh minute, but an appeal for a penalty kick on what looked to be a foul on Danielle Fotopolous in the penalty area was waved off by Seitz. Seconds later, Lilly released Wambach down the left flank with a perfect chipped pass. Her cross on the ground was met first-time by Fotopoulos, but her shot was blocked. It rebounded to Boxx, who momentarily had an open net, only to see her shot blocked as well.

Wambach almost scored on a diving header in the 12th minute off a cross from Cat Reddick, but her spectacular attempt went wide right.

One of the USA’s best chances came in the 31st minute when Lilly collected a short pass from Wambach at top of the left side of the box, spun with the ball as she turned toward goals and then smacked her left-footed shot across the face of the net and just wide right of the post.

The USA also had Australia scrambling in the 75th minute as a Lilly free kick from deep on the right wing hit the top of the crossbar. Boxx tried to keep it alive by heading it back across the goal, but the USA was whistled for an offside.

Marci Miller, who at 29 became the oldest player to earn her first cap for the U.S. Women’s National Team when she played June 26 against Canada, earned her first start and second cap, going the distance at defensive midfield next to Boxx.

Ryan made just two substitutions in the match, sending on Aly Wagner for Fotopoulos at halftime and Tiffeny Milbrett for Christie Welsh in the 58th, after starting the 5-foot-11 forwards Wambach and Fotopoulos on a three-woman front line with the 5-foot-10 Welsh. When Wagner entered the match for Welsh, Lilly pushed up to the front line, and gave the USA a bit more bite in the attack.

The U.S. team will leave for Charleston, S.C., Monday (Oct. 17) and train for five days before facing Mexico on Sunday, October 23 at Blackbaud Stadium. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET and the match will be televised live on ESPN2 and Telemundo. It will be the final match of the year for the U.S. women, who have a chance to go through all of 2005 without allowing a goal, a feat never achieved before.


 USA vs. Australia
Competition:   International Friendly
Venue:            Titan Stadium; Fullerton, Calif.
Date:              October 16, 2005; Kickoff – 3 p.m. PT
Attendance:    5,394  
Weather: Cool, cloudy -- 68 degrees

Scoring Summary:  
             1     2       F
USA     0     0      0
AUS     0     0      0

USA: 18-Hope Solo; 4-Cat Reddick, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 15-Kate Markgraf, 2-Heather Mitts; 17-Marci Miller, 7-Shannon Boxx, 13-Kristine Lilly (Capt.); 19-Christie Welsh (16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 58), 6-Danielle Fotopoulos (10-Aly Wagner, 46), 20-Abby Wambach.
Subs not used: 3-Lorrie Fair, 8-Shannon MacMillan, 11-Angela Hucles, 23-Tina Frimpong, 24-Kristin Luckenbill.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan

AUS: 1-Melissa Barbieri; 4-Thea Slatyer (2-Kate McShea, 80), 5-Cheryl Salisbury (Capt.), 6-Rhian Davies, 7-Heather Garriock; 9-Alicia Ferguson (11-Kylie Ledbrook, 95), 10-Joanne Peters, 14-Collette McCallum (19-Leah Blayney, 69), 15-Sally Shipard: 8-Sarah Walsh (17-Selin Kuralay, 69), 12-Kathryn Gill (20-Joanne Burgess, 84).     
Subs not used:, 13-Lana Harch, 18-Lydia Williams
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni 

Statistical Summary:       
                              USA     AUS
Shots:                     18         8
Shots on Goal:        5         5
Saves:                     4         2
Corner Kicks:         8         1
Fouls:                     11        16
Offside:                   1          0

Misconduct Summary:  
USA – Cat Reddick (caution)  84th minute

Referee:  Kari Seitz (Jennifer Bennett, 69)
AR 1:   Sharon Wheeler
AR 2:    Romy Kozak
4th Official:   Jennifer Bennett Woman of the Match: Amy LePeilbet