BACOLET, Tobago (Saturday, May 11, 2002) - The U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team qualified for the first-ever FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship in dominating fashion tonight, thrashing Costa Rica, 14-1, in front of an appreciative crowd of 4,000 fans at Dwight Yorke Stadium. With the win, the Americans won Group B and earned the 12th and final spot in the first-ever world championship for youth women that will be held in Canada from Aug. 17 to Sept. 1, 2002. Mexico earned CONCACAF's other berth, winning Group A on the island of Trinidad with a 5-1 victory over host Trinidad & Tobago.
"It was a peak performance that reflected all the great things about American women's soccer," said U.S. head coach Tracey Leone. "Great preparation, great passion and mental toughness, great togetherness and a beautiful possession, attacking and exciting style of soccer with great goals for the fans."
The draw for the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship will take place on Monday in Zurich, Switzerland, as the young Americans will find out if they will be placed in Victoria, Vancouver or Edmonton and who their three group opponents will be.
Any illusions Costa Rica had of becoming the first Central American team to qualify for a FIFA women's world championship were quickly washed away as the Americans scored a 7th minute goal, then pounded in seven more in the final 22 minutes of the half for an 8-0 margin at the break. The match was played to the constant beat of steel drums as the Tobagonians cheered on a U.S. team that they had adopted as their own over the course of the tournament.
Defender Jill Oakes (West Hills, Calif./Santa Anita Strikers), who was named the MVP of Group B after playing splendidly during the three games, got the USA started, roofing a loose ball from two-yards out off the first U.S. corner kick of the game. All 10 U.S. players celebrated the goal that sent that them to Canada by sliding head first, baseball-style into the U.S. bench area, sparking a team dog-pile.
From there, the USA's dynamic quintet of forwards took over as Heather O'Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J./PDA Splash) and Kelly Wilson (Odessa, Texas/Texas) each scored four goals, Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich./Michigan Hawks) added two (both crackling finishes off rebounds) and Megan Kakadelas (Carlsbad, Calif./USC) scored one. Annie Schefter (Yakima, Wash./Sun City Strikers) scored her first goal of the tournament, finishing a beautiful header while midfielder Allison Graham (Fayetteville, Ga./AFC Lightning) also scored her first goal, spinning in a 20-yard free kick one minute into stoppage time. Wilson won the tournament's top scorer award after finding the net 10 times over the three games.
The skillful Costa Ricans had more of the play than the first two U.S. opponents, firing five shots at the U.S. goal and scoring one, that courtesy of Megan Chavez, who cracked a 40-yard shot in the 58th minute that U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (Satellite Beach, Fla./Seminole Ice) got a hand on with a flying save, but then batted into the goal as she hit the ground. It was only the third goal ever scored against the U.S. U-19s in a full international match.
The Americans repeatedly got around the Costa Rican defense to cut shots crosses back into the middle, leaving goalkeeper Silvia Arias little chance to stop most of the U.S. goals.
O'Reilly's four scores included some world-class finishes, including her last one, a masterpiece in which she got the ball at midfield, shifted into overdrive and took off on a 60-yard run past the Costa Rican defense before slipping the ball into lower right corner of the net from near impossible angle on the left end line.
"We wanted to close out this amazing trip in style and with a great performance," said O'Reilly, who also had three assists. "To end on one of our best performances ever is a great feeling. We didn't want Costa Rica to think they had a chance of taking our spot in the World Cup and we finished awesomely tonight."
Over the three matches, the USA outscored its opposition 34-1 and out-shot them 123-5. Wilson upped her international goal total to 21 goals in just 10 full U-19 internationals. O'Reilly now has 11 goals in eight full internationals and Tarpley has 16 goals in 16 full internationals.
"Over the past year and half, the team has put in a tremendous amount of commitment and sacrificed a lot of things to be in the position the play in a World Cup," said Tarpley, the U.S. captain, who also had four assists. "We feel like we've come to the end of a wonderful and successful long journey and now we are ready to start another one. We're are going to be very excited to show the world what we can do in Canada."
Leone used her entire 18-player roster in the tournament, using the final player when she gave 20 minutes to back-up goalkeeper Megan Rivera (Miami, Fla./Auburn) to finish the game. Starting midfielder Leslie Osborne (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Santa Clara) was held out of the match after suffering a mild concussion against Haiti.
"The players came into this tournament focused and on a mission to get to Canada," said U.S. head coach Tracey Leone. "Each game had its challenges. In the first game, it was nerves. The second was dealing with an aggressive, physical style and the third was a must-win game for the championship. It's great for these girls at such a young age to get the opportunity to play in a World Cup. It will be an incredibly valuable experience that will no doubt accelerate their development."
The U.S. team will now have a well-deserved four weeks off to finish up their school years and then will regroup in mid-June for a trip to Europe. The team will start a three-week residency camp in San Diego, Calif. in mid-July, before heading to the northwest in early August for their final preparations for the world championship.
U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Participants: U.S. U-19 Women's National Team vs. Costa Rica
Competition: 2002 Under-19 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament
Venue: Dwight Yorke Stadium (Bacolet, Tobago)
Date: May 11, 2002 - Kickoff 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: Hot, humid - 80 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1st - 2nd - Final
United States 8 - 6 - 14
Costa Rica 0 - 1 - 1
USA - Jill Oakes (unassisted), 7.
USA - Heather O'Reilly (Kelly Wilson), 23.
USA - Kelly Wilson (Lori Cahlupny), 25.
USA - Heather O'Reilly (Kelly Wilson), 28.
USA - Lindsay Tarpley (Heather O'Reilly), 37.
USA - Heather O'Reilly (n/a), 42.
USA - Lindsay Tarpley (Heather O'Reilly), 45.
USA - Annie Schefter (Kelly Wilson), 47+.
CRC - Megan Chaves (unassisted), 58.
USA - Kelly Wilson (unassisted), 59.
USA - Megan Kakadelas (Kelly Wilson), 60.
USA - Kelly Wilson (Kendall Fletcher), 68.
USA - Heather O'Reilly (Jill Oakes), 76.
USA - Kelly Wilson (Heather O'Reilly), 80.
USA - Allison Graham (unassisted), 91+.
USA - 18-Ashlyn Harris (1-Megan Rivera, 70); 4-Jessica Ballweg, 12-Jill Oakes, 8-Kendall Fletcher; 7-Lori Chalupny, 6-Allison Graham, 11-Annie Schefter, 5-Manya Makoski (2-Kerri Hanks, 53); 9-Heather O'Reilly, 15-Lindsay Tarpley (17-Megan Kakadelas, 46), 16-Kelly Wilson.
Subs not used: 3-Rachel Buehler, 10-Leslie Osborne, 13-Sarah Huffman, 14-Jessica Trainor.
CRC - 1-Siliva Arias, 2-Ana Isabel Valverde (5-Desiree Guardia, 46), 3-Monica Salazar, 6-Lizeth Matamoros, 8-Shirley Cruz, 10-Megan Chavez, 11-Martha Chavez (9-Louise Wilson,77), 13-Maricela Rojas, 14-Yendry Cambronero, 15-Karol Segura, 17-Laura Sanchez.
STATS: USA - CRC
Shots: 38 - 5
Saves: 2 - 13
Corner Kicks: 13 - 0
Fouls: 8 - 5
Offside: 2 - 2
USA - Lindsay Tarpley (caution), 20.
CRC - Monica Salazar (caution), 27.
Referee: Virginia Tovar (MEX)
Referee Asst.: Jackeline Saez (PAN)
Referee Asst.: Joseph Taylor (TRI)
4th Official: Noel Bynoe (TRI)