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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

December 13, 2008
FRONT AND CENTER
Converted defender Ellertson scores to beat China


Kristine Lilly returned to action for the WNT in Saturday's 1-0 win over China.
Kristine Lilly returned to action for the WNT in Saturday's 1-0 win over China.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CARSON, Calif.– Tina Ellertson scored her first international goal, giving the United States a 1-0 win over China at The Home Depot Center Saturday night.

Ellertson, a defender in her previous 32 caps for the USA, was a forward in college at the University of Washington and started at striker for the first time in her national team career.

Assisting on the goal was forward Amy Rodriguez, who returned to the U.S. team for the first time since the Olympics after completing her senior season at the University of Southern California.

Rodriguez, a half time sub, received a pass down the left wing from Shannon Boxx and powered past Liu Hua Na into the left side of the penalty area. She then played a perfect cross on the ground that eluded Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yanru as well as a defender and rolled into the path of the sprinting Ellertson, who slid to knock the ball into the net from four yards out in the 61st minute.

“I'm so excited, I'm grinning from ear to ear,” said Ellertson, who was out for most of 2008 after having her second child. “I wanted to be back playing and being out there. Today was so awesome. It’s been a while since I played up top but it felt great.”

Veteran Kristine Lilly returned from a nearly 14-month hiatus after taking time off to have her first child and earned her 341st cap when she came on in the 55th minute. In her 35 minutes of action, Lilly just missed wide at the near post in the 59th minute, and in the 76th minute forced Zhang to make the best save of the night as she dove right to block a low, line drive from 12 yards out.

Carli Lloyd had a pair of shots on goal, including a blistering effort in the ninth minute that Zhang was forced to push wide. Ellertson also nearly got on the board in first half stoppage time after dribbling around the right side and up the endline, but sent her shot into the right side netting from a tight angle.

China’s best chance of the night came in the 68th minute when star forward Han Duan shimmied past Kate Markgraf in the right side of the penalty box and dribbled straight at the near post, only to slam her shot into the side netting. Two minutes earlier, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo did well to handle a corner kick that had bounced inside the six yard box, punching it clear of danger.

Defender Rachel Buehler made her eighth career start for the U.S. and her first since playing 90 minutes vs. New Zealand in the third group game at the Olympics. Lauren Cheney, fresh off her appearance with UCLA at the Women’s College Cup last weekend, replaced Ellertson in the 77th minute in her first action during the Achieve Your Gold Tour.

The victory was the USA’s third of 2008 over China after also winning 1-0 in January in Guangzhou and 4-0 in March at the Algarve Cup in Portugal.

With the win, the U.S. extended their record number of wins in a year to 32, with just one loss and one tie. The Achieve Your Gold Tour wraps up on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at Ford Field in Detroit as the U.S. hosts China again. The match, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET, will mark the USA’s first game in the state of Michigan since 1993 and homecoming for midfielder Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.).

   
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