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June 21, 2008
US wins championship game 1-0 over Canada

Angela Hucles came through in the clutch for the USWNT on Saturday, clinching the Peace Queen Cup title with her second stoppage-time game-winner of the year.
Angela Hucles came through in the clutch for the USWNT on Saturday, clinching the Peace Queen Cup title with her second stoppage-time game-winner of the year.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
SUWON, South Korea – The U.S. Women’s National Team won the 2008 Peace Queen Cup with a 1-0 victory over Canada, thanks to Angela Hucles’ fortuitous free kick goal two minutes into second half stoppage time.

With the match seemingly headed to overtime, a Canadian defender committed a foul about 35 yards from the goal, a little right of the center of the field. Spying Lauren Cheney open inside the penalty box, Hucles took the free-kick quickly. The ball skipped into the penalty area, but too far for Cheney, whose run might have distracted Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod. The innocuous looking pass then caught McLeod off-balance. She got a piece of the ball, but it skidded by her right leg and under her arms before rolling into the net.

It was a déjà vu result for the Canadians, who lost the inaugural Peace Queen Cup championship game to the United States by an identical 1-0 score in 2006.

It was the second time this year that Hucles has scored a stoppage-time winner. She also bagged a dramatic 94th-minute goal against Australia on May 3 in Birmingham, Ala., giving the USA the 5-4 victory.

Hucles won the Golden Ball as the Most Valuable Player in the tournament. Canada’s Christine Sinclair won the Silver Ball and U.S. forward Abby Wambach won the Bronze Ball.

“It was a battle, but you want to finish in the final, finish with a goal and finish first and we did that,” said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. “It was great for us to come up with a win that way. The energy we got from this game, we will bring to Beijing.”

This was the fourth time the USA and Canada have played in 2008, and the Canadians put on their best showing of the series.. Canada played compact defense in its 4-5-1 formation, sending its wingers high to put pressure on the U.S. backs, and effectively repelled repeated U.S. attacks through most of the match. The Canucks also repeatedly tested the USA’s set play defense, and were most dangerous on their seven corner kicks.

It was a game of near-misses for the US women, starting in the 17th minute, when Natasha Kai blew by a defender into the middle of the penalty area and cut a left-footed bouncing shot past McLeod. The ball hit the inside of the right post and rebounded into the goalmouth, just a foot from the line. Aly Wagner was crashing the net, but overran the ball, which hit a retreating the Canadian defender and then hit Wagner in the back of the leg. Somehow, the ball never crossed the goal line and Wagner couldn’t get a swing at it before the defender and McLeod were able to clear it out of danger.

The Americans almost got a goal in stoppage time of the first half, when Lori Chalupny collected a short clear at the top of the box after a corner kick and fired through goal mouth traffic. The ball nutmegged Wambach and took a small deflection off a Canadian defender, but somehow McLeod was able to stick her leg out to make the kick save.

Canadian captain Christie Sinclair had to leave the game for a few minutes early in the first half after cutting her head in a collision with Wambach. She returned and played the rest of the first half with her head heavily bandaged, but Canada started the second half with 10 players while Sinclair received six stitches in her scalp.

Right before Sinclair evened up the teams five minutes into the half, Kai just missed after she ran under a high ball to volley just past the left post from 10 yards out.

Canada’s first good chance of the game came in the 66th minute, as Brittany Timko played a free-kick from the left wing across the top of the penalty area on the ground. Sinclair made good contact, but spun her left-footer over the goal.

The USA had better possession in the second half and put consistent pressure in Canada’s defensive third, but that opened up space for counterattacks, creating three good fast break chances between the 70th and 80th minutes.

In the 71st minute, Kara Lang got free down the right side and hit an early ball just out of Melissa Tancredi’s reach. Three minutes later, Timko played a ball from the left wing to the far post for Lang, but she hammered her shot into the side netting. In the 79th minute. Timko broke free again down the left wing and Chalupny had to slide to scramble away the dangerous service on the ground.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo made two game-preserving saves at the end of the match, diving to her left to snag a header from Randee Hermus off a corner kick in the 84th minute. She also pushed a drive from Sinclair over the top in the final minutes of the game.

The USA almost won the match in the 88th minute through an unlikely attacking force as Heather Mitts spun a shot-cross from the top of the penalty area off the crossbar at the upper left corner.

That set the scene for Hucles’ heroics and McLeod’s unfortunate blunder.

The win gave the USA their fourth tournament title of the year. They downed China in January for the championship of the Four Nations Tournament, defeated Denmark for the Algarve Cup title in March and triumphed over Canada in penalty kicks in the final of CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying in April.

Wambach won the Bronze Shoe as the tournament’s third leading scorer. Sinclair, who tallied five times, won the Golden Shoe. Australia’s Heather Garriock, who like Wambach tallied three times in the tournament, won the Silver Shoe. With the win, U.S. Soccer took home a $200,000 first place prize while Canada earned $50,000 for second.

The win moves the USA to 17-0-1 in 2008 with four friendly matches remaining before the 2008 Olympics. The U.S. team now returns home for a brief break before leaving for Europe on June 27 to play matches against Norway (on July 2 in Fredrikstad) and Sweden (on July 5 in Skelleftea). Sundhage will announce the 18-player Olympic roster on Monday, June 23.

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