June 28, 2008
U.S. CLIPPED BY CANADA
Allow only goal of tournament in 1-0 loss
PUEBLA, Mexico – The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team fell to Canada, 1-0, in the CONCACAF Championship Final at Estadio Cuauhtemo. The lone goal scored by Canada in the 45th minute was the only goal allowed by the United States in five games of the tournament.
Canada and the U.S. had already qualified for the 2008 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile in late November, and will be joined by Mexico, who won the third-place game against Costa Rica on penalty kicks earlier in the night in the third place match.
“Today’s game was very frustrating,” said U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco. “It was one of those games where one defensive breakdown forced us to kind of chase the game. Our team showed great heart, created a lot of opportunities and fought until the end. Give Canada credit, as they never broke. We will have to learn from this game and move on.”
Canada took the first dangerous chance of the game, nearly getting on the board in the eighth minute. Sophie Schmidt moved forward and split a pair of American defenders to get into the box. As she wound up, Kaley Fountain got just enough pressure on Schmidt from behind to force her shot right into the hands of U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
In the 33rd minute, Casey Nogueira took the most dangerous shot for the U.S. in the first half. Kelley O’Hara beat her defender in the left corner and played the ball across for Nogueira, who ripped a shot from just outside the 18-yard-box that Canada goalkeeper Erin McNulty couldn’t hold onto, but the U.S. attackers couldn’t get to the rebound before she pounced on it.
A great individual effort from Canadian forward Karla Schacher put her team up in stoppage time of the first half and would prove to be the game-winner. She received the ball just across midfield and ran full speed at the U.S. defense, making a move and getting into the penalty area before curling a shot around Naeher and into the far side netting. It was one of just three shots on goals for Canada in the game, with each coming in the first half.
The U.S. went on the offensive in the second half, inserting forward Jessica McDonald, who scored on her second touch of the tournament against Costa Rica, at halftime and sending center back Nikki Marshall forward and moving into a 3-3-4 formation.
O’Hara had the best American chance early in the second half, running straight at a defender and taking a hard shot while sliding and forcing McNulty to make a finger-tip save over the crossbar. Minutes later, O’Hara combined with Michelle Enyeart, whipping in a cross to her feet, but Enyeart’s shot was partially blocked and trickled into the goalkeeper’s hands.
In the final five minutes of the game, the U.S. took three corner kicks and was dangerous with each. In the 88th minute, O’Hara played a ball from the right side that went to the feet of a wide-open Enyeart, but her shot was right at McNulty. As the game went into injury time, second-half substitute Christine Nairn took a turn from the left corner and found Keelin Winter, but her header went just over the crossbar.
Seconds later, a corner from the left side saw the pair connect again, but this time Winter’s header was cleared off the line by a defender. In the waning moments, a last chance effort by Nairn allowed her to whip another ball in from the corner and get it to McDonald, but her header was high.