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December 17, 2008
With 1-0 win, U.S. finishes with best ever record

Heather O’Reilly scored the only goal in the USA’s 1-0 win over China Wednesday.
Heather O’Reilly scored the only goal in the USA’s 1-0 win over China Wednesday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
DETROIT, Mich. – Heather O’Reilly scored a first half goal to give the United States Women’s National Team a 1-0 win over China in front of an announced crowd of 11,000 at Ford Field Wednesday night. The victory was the 33rd of the year for the Olympic gold medalists, who finish with a 33-1-2 record, the best ever in the 24 year history of the program.

With the goal, her 10th of 2008, O’Reilly became just the sixth player in U.S. history to record at least 10 goals and 10 assists in a calendar year. The only other players to achieve the rare feat were Carin Garbarra, Mia Hamm (five times), Shannon MacMillan, Tiffeny Milbrett and Abby Wambach (two times).

O’Reilly’s goal came in the 32nd minute shortly after a wild sequence in which a quick attack led by Michigan native Lindsay Tarpley and Tina Ellertson forced a back pass that was picked up by Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yanru, earning a indirect free kick from just eight yards out. Zhang was issued a yellow card for her infraction.

Angela Hucles then rolled a short square pass to Carli Lloyd, who blasted her shot at goal, but it was deflected away by the Chinese wall. Tarpley picked up the rebound and sent a looping shot that hit off the crossbar. The rebound went right to O’Reilly who settled the ball and shot under Zhang and into the net from eight yards out.

“I saw (the goalkeeper) off her line a little bit and I thought I would try it,” said Tarpley of her shot that struck the crossbar. “It felt pretty good leaving my foot, but fortunately Heather was there to finish it off. It was a great finish on her part to keep her shot low. Tonight was great and it was an incredible crowd. It’s so nice to be able to come back home and play in front of all these amazing fans.”

It was the USA’s fourth victory against China this year, all by shutout, winning three of the matches by 1-0 scores including the most recent game on Dec. 13 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Lloyd had two more free dangerous free kicks in the match, one coming early on as she drilled a 19-yard shot that just missed the lower left corner. In the 28th minute, Lloyd spun her shot just wide of the left post from a bit further back.

Ellertson had an excellent chance in the 36th minute when she got on the end of a Lori Chalupny cross from the left wing, but although she made good contact on her volley, sent the ball rocketing over the net.

China had two good chances in the first half, the first coming from Xu Yuan in the right side of the penalty area, but faced with just U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo to beat, she launched her shot over the goal. Solo had to do more with Wang Dan Dan’s chance, cutting down the angle in the left side of the area against the charging Chinese midfielder and then got both hands on the drive. The ball slipped over Solo’s shoulder, but she was easily able to recover and grab it near the goal line.

Tarpley barely missed delighting her home state crowd in the 57th minute when she collected a short pass inside the penalty area from Chalupny, but slapped her shot into the side netting from eight yards out.

Ellertson injured a hamstring near the end of the first half after a long sprint and Amy Rodriguez came on to play the rest of the match. Rodriguez had a golden chance to score from 12 yards out in the 63rd minute, but shot too softly as she tried bend the ball around Zhang into the right corner but the ‘keeper made a diving save.

Kristine Lilly entered the match in the 54th minute to extend her world record for international appearances to 342.

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