The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on October 2, 2003 · 54
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 54

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Thursday, October 2, 2003
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The Boston Globe i THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2003 Sweden edges Brazil Andersson's goal wins spot m semis i D12 u&r4- A , American Abby Wambach, who scored the lone goal, hits the ground hard after being taken down by Norway's Hege Riise. Wambach gobbled up the competition By Susan Bickelhaupt GLOBE STAFF FOXBOROUGH - Abby Wambach is probably a very nice person. She smiles a lot and looks right at you when she talks to you. But on the soccer field, the 6-foot forward scowls a lot, and spends a lot of time looking at the ground as she tumbles on the field, taking hits from the opposing team, or making hits herself. Wambach provided all the offense her team needed last night at Gillette Stadium, as the US defeated Norway, 1-0, to advance to the semifinals in the Women's World Cup. When she came off the field, sweating but smiling, and was asked how bruised she felt, Wambach just grinned and shrugged. "It's a tough game, and these Without them, it won't be same ON SOCCER Contimiedfrom Page D9 er this would have been a 3-0 knockout. The US outshot Norway, 14-3 (7-1 on goal), with an 8-2 edge on corner kicks. The Americans ran at and around the Norwegians all night, chased them down and cut them off when they ventured forward, and banged them around both on the ground and in the air. "The US team was better than the Norwegian team today," conceded coach Age Steen, whose team didnt manage a shot on goal until the 77th minute. "And we are out of the World Cup and out of the Olympics, too." The world of women's soccer has changed markedly since Brandi Chastain became the sports-bra poster girl four years ago. The Chinese aren't the best team in Asia anymore. The North Koreans are. And the Norwegians are only the third-best team in Europe now, behind the Germans (whom the US likely will meet in Sunday's semifinals) and Swedes. The one constant, since global competition began a dozen years ago, has been the Americans, who have never missed the medal stand at three Cups and two Olympics and are in prime position to win again. "I think the US is the big favorite to win the World Cup," reckoned Steen. Playing at home as the Americans have three times out of six is an undeniable advantage. 1 1 ri i i 1 1 UNITED STATES 1, NORWAY 0 Norway . - - Qol: Abby Wambach 3 24th minute. Shots on goal: Norway v.vsi. Fouls: Norway 24; US 10. Corner kicks: Norway 2; US a. Penaly kicks: Norway 0; US 1. Offsides: Norway 2; US 3. Yellow cards: Norway, Bente Nordby 66th, Use Klaveness 75th, Unnl Lehn 80th, Hege Mlse Nth. Referee: Nicole Petlgnat Switzerland. Linesmen: Elke Luethl, Switzerland; Nelly Vlennot, France. . Attendance: 25,103. NORWAY - Bente Nordby: Brit Sandaune, Ane Stangeland, Monica Knudsen, Marlt Flane Chrlstensen (Linda Ormen 77th); Solvelg Qui-brandsen, Unnl lehn (Hege Rllse 84th). Use Klaveness; Trine Ronnlng (Anita Rapp 24th), Marianne Pettersen, Dagny Mellgren. UNITED STATES - Brlana Scurry: Christie Pearce, Cat Roddick, joy Fawcett Kate Sobrero; Julie Foudy (Kylle Blvens list), Krlstlne Lilly, Shannon Box; Mia Hamm, Cindy Parlow (Ttf-feny Mllbrett 72d), Abby Wambach. are the things that ice is for," she said. "But, you know, I love it that way. If s all with your heart, and if you're not willing to go out there and play with your heart and leave it all on the field, then you dont deserve to wear the jersey." Wambach looked like a fast-moving, Pac-Man character as she ran down the left flank, dived after the ball, and headed it in the direction of the goal. She was called for one foul, and suffered four. Coach April Heinrichs was effusive in her praise of Wambach. "I said to her after the game, that was the best game of her life, and she did it for 90 minutes," said Heinrichs. "She just worked her rear end off for us and left everything on the field tonight, but I think she has a little more left in the tank." But the reason why they've been winning is because they can put 20 world-class players on the field with at least another 10 in reserve. Nobody else on earth can do that If s not just their golden oldies, the Hamms and Fawcetts and Foudys and Lillys who are playing their fourth Cup with the same passion they had as teenagers. It's the Wambachs and Reddicks and Boxxes, who stepped in with minimal international experience and have stepped up with a cool-hand poise and a head-knocking verve. Reddick, the squad's only collegian (will that Carolina pipeline ever end?) came in for the injured Chastain and has been both a bruising presence on the back line and a huge offensive weapon. Boxx, who'd never played an international match until last month, has now started three in the Cup. And Wambach, who had only eight caps when the year began, was the best player on the field by a mile. She was everywhere, hurling herself at every ball, crashing through the Norwegian underbrush like a moose run amok It was Wambach who scored the game's only goal in the 24th minute on a header off a long Reddick free kick. It was Wambach who was tripped up by Nordby as she came rampaging into the area, setting up Hamm's PK. "We tried to take her out in the box, like ice hockey," said Steen. "But it is very difficult to stop her." Wambach and her teammates are under full steam now, into the final four and presumably another showdown with the Germans, who gave them fits in the 1999 quarterfinals. For all their history, for all the bygone battles, the Norwegians were just another roadblock. "We want to get to the finals," said Milbrett. "This is just another team we had to get past" Not that it wasnt satisfying for the Americans to take out the people who've handed them their only two losses in six global tournaments. Not that it wasnt sweet to take them out of the next one, too. But Olympus is next year and the US hasnt even begun qualifying. That is a long time away," Heinrichs said. "I cant even think past two dcEys from now." Heinrichs said Wambach didnt seem to mind being targeted for the entire game, either. "We always talked about ice in her veins, and she really kept her cool," Heinrichs said. "She was being grabbed and groped and all lands of things." Norwegian coach Age Steen acknowledged that his team tried to stop Wambach, to no avail. "We tried to take her out of the box, like ice hockey, but it was very difficult to stop her," he said. Wambach deflected credit for her team's lone score to a teammate. "It was the perfect kick," she said of the ball that teammate Cat Reddick served up to her on a free kick in the 24th minute. "I got myself in a position close to the goal, kind of like a post position in bas Mia Hamm (left) has to contend with the clutch-and-grab defense of Norway's Unni Lehn. Heads-up play powers US US-NORWAY Continuedfrom Page D9 the air, stronger than the Norway team." This was the first time the US women's team had played at Gillette Stadium, as it improved to 5-0-1 with a 19-0 goal differential in Norfolk County. The US defeated North Korea, 3-0, during the 1999 Cup at Foxboro Stadium before 50,484, a New England record crowd for a women's sporting event Yesterday, a crowd of 25,103 arrived on a near-perfect night for soccer, calm, dry, with temperatures in the 60s. Fans were rewarded with a full-strength US performance, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, and Kristine Lilly going the distance after having rested during the US-North Korea match last Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, Hamm for the entire match and Foudy and Lilly for a half. Hamm struggled to find space, and did not play quickly enough to avoid the hard tackling of the Norwegians. Hamm's penalty kick in the 68th minute was saved by Bente Nordby, after Swiss referee ketball, and it flicked off my head. But like I said before, it's all about the serve." Still, she was beaming. "That was a great goal, probably the biggest goal of my career," she said. "It was a physical game, Norway brings out the best in us. But thafs my style." Wambach headed another ball that went just over the crossbar in the 33d minute, and ran into, and flattened, Norway defender Ane Stangeland in the 70th minute. However she could try to score, she would do it. "Whenever you get a chance to get a goal you do it, whether it's with your foot or your head," Wambach said. "And thafs more confidence you're building for the rest of the game. Maybe it hits the post, hits the crossbar, but what Nicole Petignat had awarded the penalty following a clash between Nordby and Wambach. "I know I made solid contact," Hamm said of the penalty. "I didnt see it until I looked up and the ball was in her arms. I am glad that one goal was enough and we are on to the semifinals." GLOBE STAFF PHOTOMAT1 HEW J. LEE Mia Hamm jumps into the arms of Abby Wambach as they celebrate victory. GLOBE STAFF PHOTOMATTHEW J. LEE matters is in between the posts and underneath the crossbar." Wambach, who grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from the University of Florida, was drafted by Washington of the WUSA in 2002. She was named Rookie of the Year, and this year was tied for the league lead in scoring with 33 points (13 goals, 7 assists). Tiffeny Milbrett, who will be 31 this month, is in her third World Cup, but said that Wambach, 23 and playing in her first World Cup, doesnt play like a rookie. "I think Abby is an incredible player who is just hitting her stride," said Milbrett. "She's so skilled and talented in all areas, and it makes her a very dangerous player. And IVe seen that potential for a few years." GLOBE STAFF PHOTOMATTHEW J. LEE But the penalty miss, a minute after central defender Ane Stangeland had returned after being kicked in the mouth by Parlow, served neither to inspire Norway nor deflate the US. "Any time there is a penalty kick the momentum can change," US defender Kate Sobrero said. "Nordby made a good save but after that we stepped up our level. We wanted to battle for Mia so she would never regret or feel bad about that" The US has now advanced to the semifinals of all four Women's World Cup tournaments. Norway, the 1995 Cup champion, was also eliminated in the '99 quarterfinals, falling to China, 5-0, at Foxboro Stadium, then rallying to win the Olympic tournament by defeating the US in Sydney. Norway, though, did not qualify for the 2004 Olympics. "This is a little redemption," Sobrero said. "I was heartbroken after the Olympics. But you want the best teams to be in the Olympics and Norway should be there. It's bad for soccer that they are not going to be there." By Frank Dell'Apa GLOBE STAFF FOXBOROUGH-, Sweden moved . within a game of the Women's World Cup finals and . clinched a 2004 Olympic berth with a 2-1 victory over Brazil at Gillette Stadium yesterday. Z The Swedes' aggressive style, plus the counterattacking threat J of strikers Hanna Ljungberg and ! Victoria Svensson provided the difference. Svensson provided the lead in the 23d minute and, after a7i Marta penalty kick tied it in the n 44th minute, Malin Andersson scored the deciding goal on a well- f struck free kick from 24 yards in the 53d minute. f After a slow start in their tournament opener, a 3-1 loss to the US in Washington, the Swedes 4 gained momentum with wins over i i North Korea (1-0) and Nigeria (3-0). They will meet Canada or China in the semifinals Sunday in Portland, Ore. And captain Malin Mostroem believes Sweden could not only reach the Oct 12 final, but even defeat the US in a re-match. $s "We learned that we have to -play more aggressive and not fall back so much because the US takes advantage of that," Mos- ; troem said. "But we know we can beatthemtheUS." - The combination of Sweden's physical style and Chinese referee Zhang Dongquing's leniency set the tone for this match. Swede midfielder Anna Sjoestroem was cautioned for a hard foul from be-hind on Formiga in the 15th min- ute, but the Brazilians did not be- s come discouraged even after a Marta centering pass was inter-'""' cepted, leading to a counterattack as Svensson finished Mostroem's cross for the first goal. ": Brazil, the youngest team in the tournament (average age 22), 1 ' began to display frustration as Daniela was cautioned after retaliating in the 37th minute. But six ' minutes later, Marta drew out goalkeeper Sofia Lundgren and was tripped as she pushed the ball -toward the end line, tying the score on the penalty. Sweden's pressure paid off early in the second half. Zhang : ' awarded a free kick just outside the penalty arc, then cautioned Brazil captain Juliana for protest- : ing. Andersson bent the free kick 1 into upper right side of the goal for ' a 2-1 lead. : Brazil appeared to have a : chance to tie during injury time, as striker Katia appeared to be taken 1 down from behind by substitute ' Sara Call. But Zhang ordered play to continue. " ": "We are going in to every game - 1 to score the first goal," Sweden coach Marika Domanski Lyfors ! said. "That is even more impor- -tant against Brazil because they become inspired if they score first. ' 1 1 "It was hard after they tied the " score just before the break, but the " " players are very strong mentally ' and they knew we could take them M in the second half." Domanski Lyfors virtually pre-dieted a Sweden victory in the semifinals. '"'' "We were strong enough to ' beat Brazil and we are strong " enough to beat China, too," Domanski Lyfors said, Brazil was among the surprise teams in the tournament, taking a 4-1 victory over Norway in the first . round. '.' "We hope this gets more girls playing in Brazil," coach Paulo Goncalves said. "We don't have . thousands of girls playing soccer. The '99 WWC was not on TV but this was on TV and the team per- . formed well, so that will be helpful." 1 1 M 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 M M 1 1 1 1 1 M M tt 1 1 H II 1 1 1 1 II 1 1 1 1 1 II II tit SWEDEN 2, BRAZIL 1 "' atoaettaStadkm rad.. 1 Goals; S, Svensson 3 23d minute; B, Marta 3 (penalty kick) 44th; S, Andersson 1 53d. Yellow cards; Sweden, Sjoestroem 15th, Lundgren 43d: Brazil, Daniela 37th, Juliana S2d. Referee: Zhang Dongqlng, China. Llnsemen: Uu Hslu Mel, Taiwan; Hlsae Yoshlzawa, Japan. 1 SWEDEN - Sofia Lundgren: Karollna West-' berg, Jane Toerngvlst, Hanna Marklund, Sara Larsson (Sara Call 90th), Frlda Oestberg: Malin Mostroem, Malin Andersson (Therese Sjoegran 72d), Anna Sloestroem; Hanna Uungberg, Vlcto-' rla Svensson. BRAZIL - Andrela; Juliana, Tanla, Slmone ' (Christiana SBth), Rosana; Renata Costa, Daniela. Formiga (Kelly 81st); Katla. Maicon, Marta. nil .I

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