November 8, 2008
O’Reilly nets U.S. winner
TAMPA, Fla.– Starting at forward for the first time in 2008, Heather O’Reilly made the most of her opportunity, scoring the lone goal for the U.S. Women’s National Team in a 1-0 victory against Korea Republic at Raymond James Stadium.
|Angela Hucles earned her 100th cap in the United States' 1-0 win over South Korea Saturday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The U.S. closed out a three-game series with Korea Republic as part of the Achieve Your Gold Tour with a 2-0-1 record that included two shutouts. Overall, the U.S. is now 5-0-1 on their post-Olympic tour, with two games against China currently scheduled for mid-December.
“Of these three games, I think this was the best one,” U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage said. “They are a very good team. Tonight though we were back to a wide field that really helped us a lot and it helped us score a great goal.”
It was O’Reilly’s good positioning that gave the U.S. the game-winner. Second-half sub Kacey White played a long ball on the ground down the left wing for Natasha Kai. She dribbled toward the endline and hit a low cross to the far post, just out of the reach of diving goalkeeper Kim Jung Mi, where O’Reilly reached her left foot around her defender and tapped the ball in the empty net from two yards out.
“I think we just fought for the whole game,” said O’Reilly. “We were a bit frustrated on Wednesday to not have gotten a goal, but we fought all the way tonight. Natasha Kai has been doing an excellent job getting to the endline and putting great balls into the box. For me it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time and being able to finish a great service from Kai.”
While the teams combined to only find the back of the net once, the posts and crossbars were ringing. In the 13th minute Korea almost took an early lead as Cha Yun Hee received a through ball from Park Hee Young and blasted a shot off the top of the left post.
The best two U.S. chances in the first half came from crosses played in from the wings. In the 21st minute, Shannon Boxx volleyed a Lori Chalupny in-swinger wide left, and in the 42nd minute Boxx provided the service that Lindsay Tarpley poked wide of the near post.
After halftime, it was the U.S. team’s turn to hit the frame. Angela Hucles played a perfect cross in from the right wing that O’Reilly headed off the center of the crossbar. The rebound came right back to the 5-feet 5-inch forward who again out-jumped her defender only to see her second header go off the same spot.
After setting up the U.S. goal, White nearly scored the first of her career when Kai flicked a Heather Mitts cross right into her path at the far post, but as she calmly tapped the ball in the net past the goalkeeper, the assistant referee signaled offside and the goal was disallowed.
With five minutes left, U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart was challenged, making things a bit difficult for herself after coming 20 yards out of her box to clear a long pass by Korea Republic. Her clearance went right to Han Song I, who didn’t have a clear shot but received a return ball from a teammate in the area, and Barnhart recovered to play the angle and make the save.
Barnhart made two saves but was very active on the night, earning her eighth career shutout and fifth of 2008. In 840 minutes spread across 12 games, Barnhart as allowed a one goal for a miniscule 0.11 goals against average.
Hucles, a Boston resident, who has shattered career highs this year in games played (30), starts (13), minutes played (1,768) and goals (8), was honored prior to the match for earning her 100th career appearance. She is the 24th player to hit the milestone, and joins O’Reilly, Boxx and Tarpley in hitting the milestone this year.