CHICAGO (Wednesday, April 28, 2004) – U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team head coach Mark Krikorian has named the 18-player roster that will compete for a berth in the 2004 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship at the CONCACAF U-19 Women’s Qualifying Tournament that will be held in Ottawa and Montreal, Canada, from May 28-June 6, 2004. The second FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship will be held in Thailand from November 10-27, 2004.
The U.S. team is led by four members of the 2002 team that won the FIFA U-19 World Championship in goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, defender Rachel Buehler, midfielder Angie Woznuk and forward Kerri Hanks, all born after the cutoff for the 2004 World Championship, which is Jan. 1, 1985. Harris and Buehler were starters for the USA in 2002, while Woznuk and Hanks were key reserves. Buehler tore her ACL early in the championship game, but has made a complete comeback. Harris was the youngest player on the 2002 team and played spectacularly in the final at the age of 16. Woznuk, a reserve in 2002, is the team’s leading scorer this year. Hanks has also matured into a goal scorer and is the team’s all-time leading scorer in U-19 internationals with 12 career goals.
“It was difficult to narrow the roster to 18,” said Krikorian. “I do think we will leave some very talented players behind, but I feel that depth is a strength for us and we are looking forward to getting up there and playing that grueling schedule of games. We know it will be a challenge but we are looking forward to the competition.”
The CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament promises to be first rate in organization and fan support as the Canadians held a spectacular first FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in 2002, an event that captured the fancy of the country as the young Maple Leafs advanced to the title game where 47,784 watched a dramatic 1-0 overtime victory by the USA in Edmonton.
The United States was drawn into Group B in the eight-team, two-group tournament and will take on the Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica in first round play. The host Canadians were placed at the top of Group A, along with Mexico, Jamaica and Panama. The top-two finishers in each group will "cross-over" in the semifinals with the winners of those games earning berths to Thailand.
The USA opens play against the Dominican Republic on May 28 at Ottawa’s Frank Clair Stadium, then faces Trinidad & Tobago on May 30 at Montreal’s McGill University Molson Stadium before finishing first round play on June 1 in Montreal against Costa Rica. The all-important semifinals will be held on June 4 in Montreal and the championship for regional bragging rights taking place on June 6 in Ottawa.
“We are definitely in a good place as a team,” said Harris, who has the most U-19 caps on the roster with 23. “I think we are peaking at the right time and excited that qualifying is almost finally here. We’ve been working hard for a long time and we’re ready to go to see what it’s like to play in front of a big crowd in another country. It’s going to be fun.”
Krikorian’s 18-player roster is a mature one, with six players going into their sophomore year in college next Fall, but he also has a good smattering of younger players, with seven rising college freshman, two players that will be high school seniors and two players that will be high school juniors in 5-foot-11 goalkeeper Kelsey Davis and midfielder Alexa Orand. The one player going into her junior year in college, Stacy Lindstrom, was born in 1985, but entered college a year early.
The USA’s back line has begun to gel, led by co-captain and central defender Becky Sauerbrunn, the ACC Freshman of the Year at Virginia, who marshals a physically rugged back line that can also feature Buehler, Kia McNeill, Nikki Krysik, Stephanie Lopez and Lindstrom.
“I know our team is ready to play for our country in qualifying,” said Sauerbrunn. “All of the players know we can’t look past this tournament because there is nothing else if we don’t finish in the top two. We know the ultimate goal is to make the World Championship, but there are important steps leading to that and I know everyone is working very hard, in and out of camp, and with their clubs and colleges, and I think everyone will be focused once the tournament starts.”
In the midfield, Krikorian has a nice combination of slashing dribblers in Woznuk and Penn State-bound Sheree Gray, but also three talented holding midfielders, including two almost 6-footers in Yael Averbuch and Lindstrom, as well as the Virginia-bound Jen Redmond. The roster also includes has some energetic flank players who are talented one-one personalities in Orand, Stephanie Kron, who made a late run to make the roster, and Texas-bound Stephanie Logterman, who also plays outside back. At forward, the USA has three talented goal scorers in Notre Dame recruit Hanks, University of Portland-bound Megan Rapinoe and Bristyn Davis, but Wonzuk and Gray can also play up top if needed.
The U.S. roster includes seven players from California, including five from Southern California, and four players from New Jersey. The USA was dominating in its first CONCACAF U-19 qualifying tournament in 2002, outscoring three opponents 34-1 in Trinidad & Tobago while becoming fan favorites on the tiny island of Tobago.
Tickets for the matches in Ottawa are available through the Ottawa Ticketmaster charge-by-phone center at (613) 755-1166, and on the Ticketmaster website (www.ticketmaster.ca). North side single-day tickets (2 games) are $9.00 Canadian for the pool round, and $12 or $17 Canadian for the consolation/final. Four-day reserved seating tournament passes for the north side that include three Ottawa pool round days and the final are available at a reduced price of $39 Canadian.
Single-day and four-day reserved seating tickets for Percival Molson Stadium on the campus of McGill University in Montreal are available through Admission charge-by-phone center at (514) 790-1245, and on the Admission website (www.admission.com). South side single-day tickets (2 games) are $9 Canadian for pool round game days, and $17 Canadian for the semifinals. Four-day reserved seating tournament passes for all three Montreal pool round days (six games) and both semifinals are still available at a reduced price of $39 Canadian.
Head Coach: Mark Krikorian (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Assistant Coach: Erica Walsh (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Goalkeeper Coach: Warren Lipka (Lexington, Ky.)