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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

February 11, 2012
ROARING BACK
Morgan pair gives USWNT 2-1 win

by Phil Stephens
Dallas Soccer News Editor

Alex Morgan, left, is swamped by teammate Megan Rapinoe after scoring the winning goal, in stoppage time, to lift the U.S. Women's National Team to a 2-1 victory Saturday at F.C. Dallas Stadium before a sold-out crowd
Alex Morgan, left, is swamped by teammate Megan Rapinoe after scoring the winning goal, in stoppage time, to lift the U.S. Women's National Team to a 2-1 victory Saturday at F.C. Dallas Stadium before a sold-out crowd
photo by Mike Stephens
FRISCO, TX --- Alex Morgan added to her quickly growing legacy, smashing in two goals in the final six minutes to lift the United States Women’s National Team to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over New Zealand in a sold-out FC Dallas Stadium Saturday in Frisco.

The 22,677 fans had to wait into stoppage time to enjoy the win, but the crowd didn’t budge, despite a crisp, raw day with temperatures in the mid-30’s under sunny skies. It was the largest WNT crowd on U.S. soil in eight years.

The clincher, coming in the fourth minute of added time, came from a perfectly nodded ball from Abby Wambach at the top of the box to Morgan, deeper inside and just to the left.

The drama came from a U.S. defensive mistake just into the second half, when newly subbed in goalie Nicole Barnhart hesitated in rushing to the ball played back to her. New Zealand’s Hannah Wilkinson rushed in to beat her to the ball and shock the U.S. team with a 49th minute goal. That shoved the Ki Wi’s in front 1-0, and shook up the U.S. plans.

That was the second U.S. miscue. Wombach had a chance to give the U.S. an early lead in the 10th minute on a penalty kick, but banged the ball off the left post. The U.S. was afforded the chance on a take down by New Zealand's Ali Riley on the edge of the box that carried on inside the area to earn the PK.

New Zealand rode the advantage throughout the second half, until Morgan managed to notch the equalizer in the 88th minute on a driving assist from Morgan Rapinoe going down the right wing. Morgan headed the ball down on a bouncer that the ref said crossed the goal line, but it was a very close call.

The U.S. ratcheted up its attack in the dying minutes, especially after the tying marker. Wambach and Alex worked together to find each other and the dominant Wambach found the right opportunity as the seconds clicked off. She shouldered her way in the middle and looked for Morgan, coming up from the left. She skied the ball and Morgan stepped up to make a connection and headed it into the far corner for the dramatic game-winner.

“It wasn’t meant to be like that,” U.S. women’s national team coach Pia Sundhage said. “But, I’ll take it any day. We made it really, really exciting.”

“It shows what kind of fighting spirit this team has and that’s something we are really proud of,” Wambach said. “And it is something we are going to really embrace.”

Wambach admitted Morgan is working hard on earning starter’s stripes.

“She’s making a very strong case for herself, scoring two goals,” she said. New Zealand is a very strong team. They are strong on the ball and gave us a lot of problems.”

Wambach added, however, that she personally thought several of the U.S. players played poorly, “Myself included,” she emphasized. “That’s not going to be allowable when we get to the Olympics.”

Wambach said the crowd added a lot to the team experience.

“We kind squeaked away with a nice win, a fun win, toward the end, obviously. The crowd was roaring. It was exciting.” Commenting more on the crowd, she said, “Whenever you can get 20-plus thousand people in one stadium, especially one like this, its loud. It’s exciting. . . It makes for special kind of soccer environment, one that not most of us are used to. It is something to experience, something to get used to so that when we get to the Olympics, nothing will faze us.”


   
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