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July 28, 2008
U-17 Women take title, spot in World Cup

MACOYA, Trinidad – The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team won the 2008 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship with a 4-1 victory against Costa Rica on Sunday night at Marvin Lee Stadium in Trinidad. Tani Costa scored twice for the U.S., with Kristen Mewis and Courtney Verloo each scoring once.

With the championship, the U.S. will be placed into Group C at the 2008 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, along with France, Japan and Paraguay. In the night’s earlier match, Canada defeated Mexico, 1-0, to win third place in the tournament and book the third and final CONCACAF spot at the 2008 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, which will be held from Oct. 28-Nov. 16 in New Zealand. A draw will be held to determine which team will be named CONCACAF A and CONCACAF B.

“When we got together as a team some months ago, we basically all agreed that our first goal was to get to the World Cup and our second goal was to win the CONCACAF region, this tournament,” said U.S. U-17 WNT head coach Kazbek Tambi. “Now we’re going to set some new goals when we get back home to lead into the World Cup.”

The U.S. wasted no time scoring, putting home a goal in the first minute. Midfielder Erika Tymrak beat a defender down the right flank and raced to the touchline. She cut the ball back, sending it to the near post where Costa and Verloo were lurking. Costa got a foot on it, knocking into the back of the net.

Just six minutes later, Costa scored again, this time on a pass from Olivia Klei. Defender Julia Roberts won the ball in the middle of the field and laid it off to the left to the wide open Klei. Klei looked up and found herself and Costa two-on-one with Tapia. She carried the ball toward Tapia, and passed it to the right, where Costa was following her and slammed it into the wide open goal from six yards out.

Kristen Mewis scored another goal for the U.S. in the 32nd minute, collecting a long ball from Amber Brooks. Kristen Mewis shrugged off her defender and carried the ball into the area, facing Tapia alone in front of the goal. She held her ground as Tapia came out to cut down the angle, coolly slotting the ball to Tapia’s left side and into the net.

The final U.S. goal came just before the end of the first half, as Brooks sent a long ball over the Costa Rican defense to Verloo in the 44th minute, who was completely unmarked. She also took on Tapia and finished the chance just to the right of Tapia’s feet.

“It’s been an awesome experience,” said Verloo, who was named captain and earned Women of the Match honors. “The whole team has worked really hard and we’ve set a lot of goals and we’re really excited to have achieved those. It’s a great feeling.”

Costa Rica never relented, putting pressure on the U.S. defense until the very end. Costa Rican captain Katherine Alvarado scored for her team on a free kick in the 72nd minute. The Ticas earned a foul about 25 yards away from the U.S. goal and the captain lined up to take the kick blasting a rocket over the U.S. wall and into the net, past a diving Alexa Gaul.

The U.S. finished the tournament undefeated, outscoring their opponents 29 to two and posting three shutouts. The team becomes the first in history to win a CONCACAF championship at this age level for women, as it is the first time that a CONCACAF championship and a FIFA World Cup are sanctioned at this level on the women’s side.

The team will hold a series of training camps before heading to New Zealand in October. The U.S., Costa Rica and Canada were the last teams to qualify for the 2008 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup after Ghana and Nigeria wrapped up African qualifying earlier this month. One of those teams will face either Costa Rica or Canada in Group B in New Zealand, once another draw is held.

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