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U.S. Moves On To Semifinals with 1-0 Win Over Rival Norway


BOSTON, Mass. (Wednesday, October 1, 2003) – The U.S. Women’s National Team advanced to the semifinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 this evening with a incredibly hard-fought 1-0 victory over arch-rival Norway in front of 25,103 fans on a chilly night at Gillette Stadium.  Five-foot-eleven forward Abby Wambach scored the winning goal with a header off a free kick from Cat Reddick in the 24th minute to earn the U.S. a spot in the last four. The U.S. will travel to Portland, Ore., tomorrow and will have three days before meeting the winner of Russia/Germany, on Sunday, Oct. 5, at PGE Park at 7:30 p.m. ET (Live on ESPN2 and TeleFutura).

“We did our best to try and keep it a simple game,” said U.S. Women’s National Team head coach April Heinrichs. “During the course of the game, I think we got better. Norway brought their best and we are thankful to get through the quarterfinal round. This was a difficult time for us, to play two games back-to-back with only two days rest, and having to travel, while Norway was already here with three days rest.”

The match marked a brilliant effort for the U.S. back line of Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett, Kate Sobrero and Cat Reddick, who combined to shut down Norway’s potent striking duo of Dagny Mellgren and Marianne Pettersen.  In fact, Norway took just three shots over 90 minutes and four minutes of stoppage time, and put just two on goal, both easily saved by U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who picked up her 66th career shutout.  Shannon Boxx, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly were also stellar on their work rate in the midfield, winning countless tackles and playing smothering defense.

Both teams battled in the midfield in the early part of the match, but as the first half wore on, the U.S. began to take control, getting the majority of chances on goal. The U.S. finished the first 45 minutes with eight shots, while Norway was only able to create two opportunities, neither of which found the frame.

Wambach was the biggest disruption to Norway’s backline, literally and figuratively, as she used her size and strength to win numerous headers.  Wambach had a chance in just the 5th minute, heading a service from the right flank by defender Christie Pearce off the crossbar.

The U.S. had eight corner kicks and numerous free kicks during the game as Norway’s was whistled for 24 fouls.  An extremely organized and solid Norwegian back line proved tough to penetrate as always, but it was a set play that finally broke them down. 

The U.S. was awarded the free kick about 35 yards from the goal in the middle of the field after Cindy Parlow was fouled. Reddick took the straight-on free kick, lobbing it in front of the goal, where Wambach was able to post up her defender, then get a head on the ball to re-direct it off the hand of diving Norwegian goalkeeper Bente Nordby and into the lower right corner.

“I knew I had position on the player marking me and if I flicked it, I figured the ‘keeper would be screened in some way,” said Wambach of the goal. “It was a great ball from Cat and luckily it went in.”

Reddick almost got a goal of her own in the 16th minute after Norway was unable to clear a free kick out of danger and a Norwegian defender headed it out towards the top of the penalty box. The ball took one bounce before Reddick pounced on it, hitting it just over the crossbar.

Four minutes later, the U.S. got another good look on goal off a free kick after defender Christie Pearce was fouled trying serve from the right side of the penalty area. Mia Hamm roped in a perfect cross, which Wambach half-volleyed hard at the net, but Nordby was able to dive to her left and snag the ball.

After taking the lead, the Americans kept up the intensity and looked as if they might get another goal before the end of the half. In the 33rd minute, Wambach won another header off a corner kick, despite defender Marit Fiane Christensen draped all over her, but it dropped just over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Kristine Lilly ripped a 30-yard shot that went just wide left.

The last few minutes of the half were dangerous for Norway, but the U.S. defense did a fine job sliding to clear away last-second tackles and didn’t allow Norway a clean look on goal. In the 42nd minute, Anita Rapp flicked on a corner kick from the near post, but no one was at the back door to finish. One minute later, Lise Klaveness pulled the trigger from 25 yards out, but the ball easily cleared the crossbar.

The second half was much of the same as the U.S. got the majority of chances on goal, but Norway did well to stay in the game with some tight defense in the back.  Nordby played a brilliant game, as she continually came off her line to win balls, but she had her biggest save of the day in the 66th minute.
 
The USA finally got behind the Norwegian defense after Parlow sent a through ball to Wambach, who chased down the pass and beat Nordby to the ball by a split second.  Wambach got a toe on the ball to push it past the Norwegian goalkeeper, before Nordby upended her just inside the penalty area.  Swiss referee Nicole Petignat whistled for a penalty kick and Hamm stepped up to take it.  She hit her shot hard, but not far enough away from Nordby, who dove to her right to snag the ball and keep her team in the match.  Under a minute later, Nordby again stymied the U.S. with a great save, stopping a point blank header from Parlow.

With 13 minutes remaining in the match, Norway brought on midfielder Linda Ormen for defender Fiane Chrisitensen in an attempt to add some offensive punch, and went the rest of the match with only three defenders. Norway was able to put a bit more pressure on the U.S. in injury time, but the U.S. defense was once again impenetrable, holding off the final few attacks to earn the historic win.  For Norway, the loss was particularly painful as they were knocked out of two tournaments in one night.  With the top two European countries from the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003 qualifying for the 2004 Olympics, the reigning Olympic champions will finish behind Sweden and Germany or Russia, and will not be in Athens, Greece, next year.
 
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up:    USA vs. Norway       
Competition:      FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003
Venue:              Gillette Stadium – Boston, Mass.
Date:                 Oct. 1, 2003; Kickoff – 7:30 p.m. ET
Attendance:       25,103
Weather:           60 degrees, cool

Scoring Summary:
                  1     2     F
USA          1     0    1
NOR         0     0    0

USA – Abby Wambach (Cat Reddick)     24th minute
 
Lineups:
USA: 1-Briana Scurry; 3-Christie Pearce, 4-Cat Reddick, 15-Kate Sobrero, 14-Joy Fawcett; 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Julie Foudy – Capt. (2-Kylie Bivens, 81), 13-Kristine Lilly; 9-Mia Hamm, 20-Abby Wambach, 12-Cindy Parlow (16-Tiffeny Milbrett, 72)
Subs not used: 5-Tiffany Roberts, 6-Brandi Chastain, 8-Shannon MacMillan, 10-Aly Wagner, 17-Danielle Slaton, 18-Siri Mullinix, 19-Angela Hucles.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs
       
NOR: 1-Bente Nordby; 2-Brit Sandaune, 3-Ane Stangeland, 4-Monica Knudsen, 15-Marit Fiane Christensen (17-Linda Ormen, 77); 8-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 10-Unni Lehn (6-Hege Riise, 84) 20-Lise Klaveness; 7-Trine Ronning (9-Anita Rapp, 24), 11-Marianne Pettersen, 14-Dagny Mellgren – Capt.
Subs not used: 5-Karin Bredland, 12-Silje Vesterbekkmo, 13-Anne Tonnessen, 16-Gunhild Folstad, 18-Ingrid Fosse, 19-Kristine Edner.

Statistical Summary:            USA    NOR
Shots                                      14     3
Shots on goal                             7    2   
Saves                                         2    6
Corner Kicks                             8      2
Fouls                                       10        24
Offside                                       3    2    

Misconduct Summary:

NOR –  Bente Nordby (caution)         66th minute
NOR – Lise Klaveness (caution)    75.
NOR – Unni Lehn (caution)        80.
NOR – Hege Riise (caution)        86.

Officials:

Referee: Nicole Petignat (SUI)     
Referee Asst.: Elke Luethi (SUI)          
Referee Asst.: Nelly Viennot (FRA)     
4th Official: Tammy Ogston (AUS)     

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