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U.S. Women Defeat Norway, 1-0, in Connecticut


EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (July 14, 2007) – The U.S. Women’s National Team got a second half goal on a header from midfielder Carli Lloyd to edge long-time rival Norway, 1-0, in one of the toughest tests of the summer as the U.S. continues its run toward the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

A crowd of almost 10,000 saw the U.S. improve its record to 10-0-2 in 2007 with three games left in the team’s Send-Off Series before leaving for China. Overall, the U.S. extended its unbeaten street in regulation time to 44 games, 43 under head coach Greg Ryan. The U.S. team extended its shutout streak to three consecutive matches and has not given up a goal in the last 320 minutes.

It was also the United States’ seventh straight victory over Norway, by far the longest streak for either team in a series that dates back to 1987. The U.S., which has played Norway more than any other country, now leads the all-time series with 20 wins, 18 losses and two ties.

“Tonight we went with one of our youngest lineups we’ve gone with all year long,” said U.S. head coach Greg Ryan. “When you go over (to the Women’s World Cup), you are going to be in these kinds of games where it means everything to both teams and you are playing a great opponent. I am really pleased about how we held up. I thought from the beginning of the game to the end we just got stronger and I was
really happy with the core of young midfielders that were all over the park.”

The game was a special one for U.S. captain and Wilton, Conn., native Kristine Lilly as Governor M. Jodi Rell signed a proclamation declaring Saturday, July 14, “Kristine Lilly Day.” The all-time record holder in international appearances, who played in her 328th game, didn’t disappoint the hometown fans, setting up the winning goal in the 66th minute.

The goal came after second-half substitute Natasha Kai did well to earn a corner kick on the right side. Kai then caught Norway napping, playing the ball short and quickly to Lilly who took a touch toward goal and spun a wonderful left-footed cross to the far post from just outside the penalty area. The ball dropped perfectly in between three Norwegian defenders to Lloyd, whose diving header from close range beat Norwegian goalkeeper Christine Nilsen into the lower left corner.

“Kai played it quick, which was a good choice on her part, and I just bent a ball in and Carli’s head was right on it,” said Lilly of the USA’s lone score. “We caught them a little off-guard.”

It was Lloyd’s sixth career goal and first since she scored four goals in four games at the 2007 Algarve Cup last March in Portugal.

Lloyd was one of the USA’s most threatening players, getting at least four good cracks at the Norwegian net, including one just 20 seconds into the game from a tight angle in the left side of the penalty area that she fired high.

The long-time combatants combined for just 15 fouls in a hard tackling, but cleanly played match. The U.S. team had a difficult time finding its attacking rhythm throughout the entire game, but got better as the match progressed and defended well enough that one goal was good enough to win.

Forward Lindsay Tarpley was painfully denied in the 35th minute after she swooped in to steal a slow rolling ball from the sliding Nilsen, then rounded the ‘keeper to the left and chipped a left-footer towards the goal, only to watch the retreating Ane Horpestad clear the ball off the line with her head.

Two minutes later, Nilsen made a spectacular save of a Lilly shot from 11 yards out in the left side of the penalty area. Lilly’s deflected drive struck Horpestad on the leg and was squirting into the lower left corner before Nilsen pulled off a great reaction to palm the ball outside the right post.

Norway’s two best chances came in the first half on dangerous set play services that midfielder Solveig Gulbrandsen got her head on, but the first went wide left and the second she powered over the bar. Gulbrandsen, Norway’s star and playmaker, was for the most part shut-down as midfielder Leslie Osborne, who got her first start since March 14 against Denmark in the Algarve Cup Final, shadowed her for the entire match.

The Norwegians exhibited some excellent work ethic and pressuring defense in the middle of the field, and their counter attacks had a dangerous quality to them, but they usually fizzled around the top of the penalty area and most of their shots did not find the frame.

In fact, the U.S. defense, backed by Sierra Mist Woman of the Match Christie Rampone, center backs Cat Whitehill and Kate Markgraf and left back Stephanie Lopez, limited Norway to just one shot on goal for the entire game. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo picked up her 24th career shutout and did well clearing several back passes under pressure while also solidly snagging a few well struck crosses.

“The goal is to get in sync again,” said Ryan. “The two week break slowed us down a little bit. I don’t think this was our best soccer, but it wasn’t supposed to be. It was one of our best efforts and that’s what won us the game. Down the road we just have to get in sync again. I’ve told the players that there is going to be so many that play a role in this World Cup. We’re not going to be a team of just eleven, and we have so much talent and people that match up differently, so I think that we’ll get a chance to see more and more players in these games.”

The U.S. team will now go on a break before re-grouping on July 20 in Carson, Calif., at The Home Depot Center for three days of training before traveling to San Jose on July 23 in preparation for a match against fellow Women’s World Cup participant Japan at Spartan Stadium in San Jose on July 28, which kicks off at 6 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on ussoccer.com’s MatchAccess. The USA will then take on New Zealand in Chicago on Aug. 12 at Soldier Field and finish up the preparation schedule against Finland in Los Angeles on Aug. 25 at The Home Depot Center in the final match before the team heads to China. For complete details and ticket information for the entire Send-Off Series, visit to ussoccer.com.

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

Match-up: USA vs. Norway
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Rentschler Field; East Hartford, Conn.
Date: July 14, 2007; Kickoff – 6 p.m. ET
Attendance: 9,957
Weather: Sunny, warm – 79 degrees

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

USA – Carli Lloyd (Kristine Lilly)    66th minute

Lineups:
USA:18-Hope Solo; 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Cat Whitehill, 15-Kate Markgraf; 14-Stephanie Lopez; 12-Leslie Osborne, 17-Lori Chalupny, 11-Carli Lloyd (16-Angela Hucles, 74); 5-Lindsay Tarpley (6-Natasha Kai, 46), 20-Abby Wambach, 13-Kristine Lilly – Capt.
Subs not used: 1-Briana Scurry, 2-Marian Dalmy, 7-Shannon Boxx, 8-Tina Ellertson, 19-Marci Jobson.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan

NOR: 1-Christine Nilsen; 2-Ane Horpestad, 3-Gunhild Følstad, 5-Siri Nordby, 19-Marit Christensen; 8-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 21-Lene Storløkken, 9- Melissa Wiik, 14-Leni Larsen Kaurin (17-Lene Mykjåland, 78), 15-Madeleine Giske (10-Unni Lehn, 74), 18-Marie Knutsen.
Subs not used: 6-Camilla Huse, 7-Guro Knutsen, 11-Maritha Kaufmann, 12-Erika Skarbø, 16-Kristin Lie.
Head Coach: Bjarne Berntsen

Statistical Summary: USA / NOR
Shots:                                14 / 10
Shots on Goal:                   5 / 1
Saves:                                  1 / 4
Corner Kicks:                      6 / 5
Fouls:                                   9 / 6
Offside:                                1 / 2

Misconduct Summary: None.

Officials:
Referee: Kari Seitz (USA)
Asst. Referee: Sharon Wheeler (USA)
Asst. Referee: Margaret Domka (USA)
Fourth Official: Rachel Woo (USA)

Sierra Mist Woman of the Match: Christie Rampone

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