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Norway Scores Twice Early, U.S. Women Lose in 2008 Olympic Opener


QINHUANGDAO, China (Aug. 6, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Team fell to Norway, 2-0, in the first match for both teams at the 2008 Olympics as the Europeans stunned the U.S. with two goals in the first five minutes. The Americans pushed to pull a goal back in the second half, but an organized Norwegian side held on for the victory on a hot and steamy night at the Qinhuangdao Sports Center Stadium.

The loss was just the second-ever for the U.S. women in the Olympics, with the only other loss also coming to Norway in the 2000 Olympic Final in Sydney, Australia.

Norway sits atop Group G with three points. Japan came back from a two-goal deficit to tie New Zealand, 2-2, creating a tie for second place with one point each. The USA will face Japan next in a critical match on Saturday, Aug. 9, at 5 a.m. ET live on USA Network and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel.

"My glass is always half full. For us, it is a new experience to lose a game and the fact we tried to turn around and create some chances in the second half is positive,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage, who suffers her first loss as the U.S. head coach. “I'm happy that this is the first game and not the last. We still have two more games to go. We will take the good part of the second half going forward to play against Japan and New Zealand.”

Norway’s dream start came in the second minute. After Christie Rampone cleared away a long throw in, Norway captain Ane Stangeland Horpestad swung in a looping cross from the left wing. Lori Chalupny was good position to try to win the header, but U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo charged off her line and collided with Chalupny as Leni Larsen Kaurin got her head to the ball, popping it over both U.S. players and into the empty net.

Two minutes later Norway scored again. The goal came after Kate Markgraf played a back pass from the right sideline into the middle of the field, but hit it too softly, and it was picked off in stride by Melissa Wiik who dribbled into the penalty area and curved a fantastic shot inside the left post around Solo.

After a few early build-ups and corner kicks, the best chance for the U.S. in the first half came in the 26th minute and was created by midfielder Heather O’Reilly. With the U.S. pressing, O’Reilly dribbled to the end line and cut back a pass that deflected to Carli Lloyd, who touched the ball forward to Angela Hucles, but her curling shot flew over the crossbar.

In the 15th minute, Sundhage was forced to make her first substitution as Chalupny departed the match due to a blow to the side of her head in the collision with Solo on the first goal. She was replaced by Stephanie Cox.

In the second half, Norway was content to sit back and counter-attack while the U.S. picked up the pressure, eventually firing 20 shots during the game. Norway’s best chance of the second half came in the 49th minute off a free-kick that Marit Christensen flicked just wide of Solo’s right post.

Forward Amy Rodriguez came on at halftime replacing Lindsay Tarpley and helped the U.S. build numerous attacks through the final 45 minutes, but the Americans struggled to solve Norway’s defense with the final pass. In the 61st minute, forward Natasha Kai put a shot over the bar from a tight angle and in the 78th Lloyd had a pair of chances denied after her first shot came back to her off a defender.

The USA also had two good chances in stoppage time, the first when Hucles hit a blast from outside of the area that would have dipped into the net if not for a great leaping save from Erika Skarbøe. A minute later, Lloyd’s strike from nearly the same spot went just wide of the post.

This was the 44th meeting in a rivalry that dates to 1987, with Norway having more success against the U.S. than any other team. Going into the match the U.S. had won the 10 previous meetings dating to 2002, and the win was the 19th in the series for the Scandinavian side.

The game marked the first Olympic appearances for Solo, Chalupny, Lloyd, Kai, Cox, Rodriguez and Tobin Heath, who came on late in the game for Cox. It was also the first Olympic starts for Hucles and O’Reilly. Chalupny is listed as day-to-day for the USA’s next match against Japan.

In other Olympic action, Germany and Brazil played to a 0-0 tie in a rematch of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. The hosts China were also victorious, surprising No. 3-ranked Sweden 2-1, and are tied for first in Group F with Canada who were 2-1 winners against Argentina.

- U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT -

Match-up: USA vs. Norway
Competition: 2008 Olympics
Venue: Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Center Stadium; Qinhuangdao, China
Date: August 6, 2008; Kickoff – 7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET
Attendance: 17,673
Weather: Hazy, Humid, 83 degrees

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

NOR – Leni Larsen Kaurin (Ane Stangeland Horpestad)    2nd minute.
NOR – Melissa Wiik                                                                     4.

Lineups:
USA: 18-Hope Solo; 2-Heather Mitts, 15-Kate Markgraf, 3-Christie Rampone – Capt., 17-Lori Chalupny (14-Stephanie Cox, 15, 13-Tobin Heath, 78); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd, 5-Lindsay Tarpley (8-Amy Rodriguez); 16-Angela Hucles, 6-Natasha Kai
Subs: 4-Rachel Buehler, 10-Aly Wagner, 12-Lauren Cheney, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage

NOR: 1-Erika Skarbøe; 2-Ane Stangeland Horpestad – Capt., 3-Gunhild Følstad, 7-Trine Rønning, 12-Marit Christensen; 4-Ingvild Stensland, 6-Marie Knutsen (5-Siri Nordby, 88’), 13-Lene Storløkken; 10-Melissa Wiik (17-Lene Mykjåland, 69’), 8-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 11-Leni Larsen Kaurin (14-Guro Knutsen, 67’)
Subs:, 9-Isabell Herlovsen, 15-Marita Skammelsrud Lund, 16-Elise Thorsnes, 18-Christine Nilsen
Head Coach: Bjarne Berntsen

Statistical Summary: USA / NOR
Shots:                                  20 / 12
Shots on Goal:                   11 / 6
Saves:                                   6 / 8
Corner Kicks:                       4 / 1
Fouls:                                  12 / 11
Offside:                                  2 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
None.

Officials
Referee: Nicole Petignat (SUI)
Asst. Referee: Cristini Cini (ITA)
Asst. Referee: Karine Vives Solana (FRA)
4th Official: Dagmar Damkova (CZE)

Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Christie Rampone

2008 Olympic Women’s Soccer Tournament Standings
Group G
Team  W L  T   Pts GF GA GD
NOR   1   0  0   3     2     0   +2
NZL     0   0 1   1      2     2    0
JPN     0   0 1   1      2     2    0
USA     0  1  0   0      0     2   -2

Aug. 6
Japan 2, New Zealand 2
Norway 2 USA 0

Aug. 9
USA vs. Japan, 5 a.m.. ET
New Zealand vs. Norway, 7:45 a.m. ET

Aug. 12
Norway vs. Japan, 7:45 a.m. ET
USA vs. New Zealand, 7:45 a.m. ET

Group E
Team  W  L   T Pts GF GA  GD
CAN     1   0   0    3    2    1   +1
CHN    1    0  0    3     2    1   +1
SWE    0    1  0    0    1     2    -1
ARG     0   1   0    0    1    2     -1

Aug. 6
Argentina 1, Canada 2
China 2, Sweden 1

Aug. 9
Sweden vs. Argentina, 5 a.m. ET
Canada vs. China, 7:45 a.m. ET

Aug. 12
China vs. Argentina, 7:45 a.m. ET
Sweden vs. Canada, 7:45 a.m. ET

Group F
Team   W     L     T    Pts  GF  GA   GD
PRK     1       0     0      3     1     0     +1
BRA      0      0     1      1      0    0       E
GER      0      0     1     1      0     0      E
NGA      0      1      0     0      0     1     -1

Aug. 6
Germany 0, Brazil 0
North Korea 1, Nigeria 0

Aug. 9
Nigeria vs. Germany, 5 a.m. ET
Brazil vs. North Korea, 7:45 a.m. ET

Aug. 12
North Korea vs. Germany, 5 a.m. ET
Nigeria vs. Brazil, 5 a.m. ET


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