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Kealia Ohai

World Cup Final Quote Sheet: U-20 WNT vs. Germany


U.S. U-20 WNT vs. Germany
2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup – Final
Tokyo National Stadium; Tokyo, Japan
Sept. 8, 2012

U.S. head coach STEVE SWANSON
On the resilience of the U.S. team:
“Obviously, we are thrilled. What a great performance by the team. I would say that this is a reflection of many people’s efforts and we just have a very together team. We faced some adversity in group play, but I think true to this team’s nature they really rebounded well, learned lessons and put it all out there tonight.”

On how wining the World Cup was a team effort:
“I look around our program and I see a very committed and hard-working group. We’re a team all the way through. We have a wonderful coaching staff that works together extremely well. We have a wonderful team who doesn’t care who gets credit. It’s about success, it’s about performing and it’s about winning and I think our character showed through tonight. Our team was very strong and together and that made the difference.”

On the organization of the World Cup:
“Japan did a wonderful job organizing this tournament and there was tremendous atmosphere out there tonight. I am very grateful for everything this organizing committee put together to create this tremendous World Cup.”

On what tactics changed from the game against Germany in group play:
“I think we felt in the first game we played a little too central. We felt there was some space on the flanks we could exploit. We wanted to get Maya (Hayes) into some space and I thought she did a good job staying wide and looking for runs in behind and we felt there was some space in there last game that we didn’t take advantage of as much as we could have. We looked to penetrate a little more than we did in the first game which I think helped us. From the coaches perspective, we wanted to use the width a little more and get behind their back line a little bit more.”

On the U.S. team playing some excellent skillful soccer throughout the tournament:
“The kind of programming we have put in place has really emphasized the technical side. Certainly I think we can be better overall, but I think it has improved a great deal in the U.S. Hopefully you could see a determination by our team to play, to try to possess the ball and build attacks. We’ve made that a priority with this team. It’s a challenge for our country that we are working on and something that we are emphasizing.”

On learning from each game:
“We did have a lot of difficult games and it speaks to the competitiveness of the tournament and the game worldwide that there are no longer just a few teams that can compete here and I think that’s great for the women’s game overall. One thing about our team is that they are good students. They learn. They play hard together, they have a great resolve, but I think the biggest thing for us and what separated us, is that we applied the lessons from previous games and I think you need to do that in a tournament like this.”

On learning from the other teams in the tournament:
“I think there are a lot of things our team and our country can take away from this tournament in terms of the areas we can improve on. There are still some things we can get better at and I think we are striving for that. I think our youth national teams are set up right now so there is a vision and a philosophy that permeates all the programs. That was needed and that will help us even more now. The technical side is an area we can get better at and there are a lot of things we can learn from Nigeria, from Germany and from Japan, which had a wonderful, technical and organized team. Hopefully, the other countries can take some things from our team as well.”

On how losing to Germany in group play motivated the players:
“The thing you have to understand about American teams and American players is there’s nothing better for our players than to come up with a challenge. We were beaten in that first game against Germany and I think our players had it in their minds to get after it this game. We knew that we played well against Germany but that the result didn’t go like we wanted. I think there were a lot of positives to be taken from that first game Germany game and to be able to play them again to have the mentality our players had made a big difference.”

On the USA’s defense throughout the Women’s World Cup:
“Our defense really improved throughout the tournament. In these last three games they deserved an awful lot of credit. To play the three group winners and come out with a victory in each game says a lot about our team, but especially our defense. I thought they were magnificent and I include our goalkeeper in that. One of the things that is tough to do against the Germans, and certainly the Nigerians because they are so fast, is just to stay compact. I felt that in the first game against Germany we got a little stretched in the second half and they are very good at exploiting space and that was something we talked about at the beginning of the game and at halftime. They have some very good attacking players and they really push the line and at times our defense got stretched a little bit, but our midfield worked really hard to compensate and I thought we got a great effort from our forwards as well so we needed everyone to play well and play hard defensive and we got that and I think that was a key to our win.”

U.S. defender CRYSTAL DUNN

On rebounding from some adversity early on in the tournament:

“We had some struggles in the beginning and that could have easily broken us, but I think coming out of group play we had to learn from our mistakes and I think they really gave us a push through the quarters to the semis to the final.”

On Germany starting all of its matches strong:
“We knew Germany is a high-pressing team and off the bat, we knew they would push in the first 30 minutes we had to handle it. We got the goal at the end of the first half really settled us down, kept us focus and we held them off until the end of the game.”

On getting forward into the attack and setting up the game-winning goal:
“I like to wait for my chances. I’m an outside back so I have to stay connected with my back line, but if I see some space there I am going to take it. On the goal, I saw the defender kind of isolated and her nearest cover was kind of far back so I took her on and once I got past her I just tried to find one of our players in the box.”

On lessons learned from facing Germany in group play:
“We all felt good coming into the game. We knew what Germany was about. Playing them in group play obviously gave us a good perspective of what they can bring. Yes we lost 3-0, and it was very shocking to us, but we learned from our mistakes. Just marking tight in the box and not letting them get any chances they didn’t really deserve.”

On the USA scoring the first and only goal Germany gave up in the tournament:
“We knew going into this game they had not given up a goal, so they defensively they were very organized and compact and we had to find ways in and around their back line, so it was a great feeling scoring on them.”

U.S. defender JULIE JOHNSTON

On the rematch with Germany:
“We had one goal, and that was to win. This was a team that was standing in the way. We had to play smart, but we knew their tendencies, we knew how they played and how they scored on us (in group play). It was our job to play better than we did before and I think that showed.”

On the match:
“We knew Germany was never going to let up. They are a team that never stops working hard and we need to match them or do better. We came in to the game with heart, with a passion for our sport and gave it everything we had.”

U.S. forward KEALIA OHAI

On the support the full U.S. WNT has shown for the U-20s through emails, tweets and videos:
“It’s been incredible to watch the full team win the Olympics. They are our idols and we look up to them so much. Being in this tournament and getting so much support from them has been a dream.”

On scoring the winning goal:
“They’re really tough on defense and their goalie is incredible so it was an honor to be able to play in that game and score that goal.”

On lessons learned from the group play:
“Our group was really tough, so coming out of that, we realized that we needed to fix some things, mostly psychologically. We also need to fix our shape and some other things, but I think that loss really helped us.”

On the importance of getting the first goal against Germany:
“One of our biggest points was that they’ve never been down. We’ve been tied, we’ve been down and we’ve had to fight our back. You don’t know how you will react to that until you’ve been in that situation so we felt if we could score a goal, they’ve never been in that spot, so scoring the first goal was really big. In the second half they were coming hard so we knew we just needed to weather the storm because they’re front-runners are really good and our goalie came up huge.”

On the team’s belief heading into the Women’s World Cup Final:
“We believed we would win. Going into the game, we didn’t care if they beat us 3-0 or they were better than us, today they’re not going to beat us. We truly believed that going in and that’s one of the reasons we ended up winning the whole thing.”

On the team’s experience in Japan:
“It was an amazing experience and we’ve learned so much about this culture and we are so honored to be able to play here in Japan. It means the world to us.”

On the journey to the Women’s World Cup title:
“It’s been incredible. It’s been a long journey. We’ve been together a year and half, but everything is worth it. All of our sacrifices, all the beep tests, it’s just hard to describe in words.”

On her goal:
“I saw Crystal taking it down the flank and I knew she would get something off so in my head I was thinking, ‘you’ve got to get in the box.’ I sprinted as fast as I could, got in the box, it went past Stengel and I shot it and I just couldn’t believe it.”

U.S. goalkeeper BRYANE HEABERLIN

On the last 30 minutes when Germany was pushing hard for an equalizer:
“That last half hour was crazy. They were coming at us, shooting the ball, crossing the ball, and my defenders were sliding all over the place, heading the ball away. They came up big and we pulled through it.”

On the match:
“Germany hadn’t given up a goal the whole tournament so I am so proud of the forwards that scored a goal, but to not let Germany score in a full 90 minutes after they beat us 3-0 in group play. I am so proud of our backs. They’re my girls.”

On what she did at the final whistle:
“I have envisioned that moment in my head so many times and I never really knew what I would do. I kind of saw myself with my arms in the air running around, but I just jumped on my center-back because she played awesome. Then we dog-piled. It was awesome.”

U.S. midfielder MORGAN BRIAN

On winning the U-20 Women’s World Cup:
“It was more than I’ve ever dreamed about. Once we got on that podium and got handed the medal it all became so real.”

On getting another crack at Germany:
“Going into group play we hadn’t played them since last year and I think we were kind of surprised and made some mistakes, but we fixed them this time and won when it mattered.”

On the tactics for the Final:
“We wanted to turn their backs and beat them on the outside and that’s what happened on the goal.”

On the journey to winning the U-20 Women’s World Cup:
“It’s been an amazing journey. We’ve put a lot of effort into it and I love this team and I love these girls.”

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