KAARINA, Finland (Monday, July 22, 2002) - The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team opened the 2002 Nordic Cup with a 1-0 victory over a well-organized Finland team as midfielder Joanna Lohman (Penn State/Silver Spring, Md.) scored the game-winner in the 55th minute.
The U.S. U-21s are going for their fourth consecutive Nordic Cup tournament championship. Without a sanctioned FIFA tournament for U-21 women, the Nordic Cup serves as the top ompetition in the world for this age group. The USA has won four out of the last five Nordic Cups since 1997, including three in a row.
The USA played without starting midfielder Aly Wagner (Santa Clara/San Jose, Calif.) and starting defender Cat Reddick (UNC/Birmingham, Ala.), who arrived just before the final whistle to join the team on the bench after traveling from Blaine, Minnesota, where both played 90 minutes in a 4-0 victory over Norway with the full U.S. Women's National Team. Wagner picked up an assist in that match.
"We achieved our objective in a very tricky opening match, playing against Finland in Finland, while missing a couple of key players," said U.S. head coach Jerry Smith, who is coaching in his second Nordic Cup after winning the tournament last year in his debut. "Our team showed great patience and discipline against a well-organized defensive effort by Finland."
In a match without many real scoring chances, the teams combined to fire just nine total shots during the game. The American women did have the advantage in possession, but had difficultly turning the territorial edge into goals. The game-winner came 10 minutes into the second half as defender and team captain Nandi Pryce (UCLA/Casselberry, Fla.) served a long ball over the Finland defense to Lohman, who brought the ball down with her chest in the left side of the penalty area and toe-poked the ball past the goalkeeper from 16 yards out into the left corner.
"After not making the Nordic Cup team last year, I really wanted to make it and contribute this summer," said Lohman, who will be a junior for the Nittany Lions this fall. "It was a great team effort, but we know it's just the first game. We have to win two more to get to the championship game, which is where we want to be."
Finland played a 4-5-1 formation for most of the match, which served to limit the attacking of outside backs Ally Marquand (Stanford/Irvine, Calif.) and Betsy Barr (Portland/Granite Bay, Calif.), however, the U.S. back line was successful in shutting down the Finnish attack as goalkeepers Nicole Barnhart (Stanford/Gilbertsville, Pa.), and Hope Solo (Washington/Richland, Wash.) both played solid matches organizing in the back. Solo arrived in Finland the day before the match after leaving the full national team camp in Minnesota.
"The first 20 minutes, we were kind of unsettled," said Pryce. "I think we had some opening game jitters playing against the home team, but we rode out the storm in the first half, settled down and we earned a bunch of corner kicks. Jerry wanted us to look forward earlier, and I saw Joanna making a
good run along their restraining line and luckily I was able to get her the ball."
The USA will face Denmark -- a 4-1 winner today over the full Greek Women's National Team -- in the next match on Wednesday in Kaarina. The U.S. U-21s will then finish group play against Greece on Friday. The USA must win the group in order to play for the championship on Sunday, July 28.
U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Participants: United States vs. Finland
Competition: 2002 Nordic Cup Championships
Venue: Kaarina Stadium - Kaarina, Norway
Date: July 22, 2002 - 6:00 p.m. local (11:00 a.m. ET)
Weather: Cloudy, cool - 68 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1st 2nd Final
USA 0 / 1 / 1
FIN 0 / 0 / 0
USA - Joanna Lohman (Nandi Pryce) 55th minute.
USA - 1-Nicole Barnhart (18-Hope Solo, 46), 5-Ally Marquand, 8-Amy LeiPeilbet, 6-Nandi Pryce - Capt., 16-Betsy Barr, 15- Devvyn Hawkins, 11-Joanna Lohman, 13-Carli Lloyd, 12-Christie Welsh (7-Mary McDowell, 66), 20-Alyssa Ramsey, 9-Marcia Wallis.
FIN - 12-Liisa Luoto, 5-Laura Kivisto, 4-Hanna Kaaranen, 2-Petra Vaelma, 14-Janina Vahalahti, 7-Tiina Saario, 6-Emelie Karlsson (11-Heli Suoreijus, 72), 3-Jessica Julin (9-Mari Maunula, 78), 10-Katri Nokso-Koivisto (16-Milla Mattila, 58), 8-Elisa Simonen, 13-Jessica Thorn (18-Elisa Pirinen, 31).
Statistical Summary: USA / FIN
Shots ....... 6 / 3
Saves ....... 1 / 2
Corner Kicks ....... 8 / 2
Fouls ....... 14 / 13
Offside ....... 3 / 0
USA - Lohman (caution) 61st minute.
Referee: Antonia Kokotu (Greece)
Asst. Referees: Emilia Parviainen (Finland), Timo Vuorinen (Finland)